Stocks Stumble on Japan Fears

FOX Business: The Power to Prosper

U.S. markets ended the day in the red, coming back from steep midday losses, as traders mulled the economic consequences of the damage caused by the earthquake that shook Japan last week.

Today's Markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was lower by 51 points, or 0.43%, to 11993, the S&P 500 slipped 7.9 points, or 0.6%, to 1296 and the Nasdaq Composite was off 14.6 points, or 0.54%, to 2700. The FOX 50 slipped 6.2 points to 920.

The blue chips fell more than 1% at session lows, but clawed their way back in late-day trading.

The earthquake, the largest on record to ever hit Japan, and the ensuing tsunami, have killed thousands and caused widespread destruction throughout the country.

The Japanese Nikkei plummeted 6.18% Monday over uncertainty about how the Japanese economy would recover from the crisis.

Critical infrastructure and industrial centers were severely damaged, raising concerns over how quickly Japan's economy, the third largest in the world, could recover after the natural disaster.

"The markets are getting some pressure from the uncertainty" over what will happen in Japan, said Marc Pado, U.S. market strategist at Cantor Fitzgerald.

The Bank of Japan injected a record $183 billion of cash into the financial system in a bid prop up beleaguered markets.  The central bank also doubled its asset purchase program, an expansionary move, in hopes of easing the economic damage caused by the natural disaster.

Companies involved with the nuclear power industry, like Cameco (NYSE:CCJ) and Denison Mines (AMEX:DNN), were down sharply on fears issues with nuclear plants in Japan caused by the earthquake would weaken demand for nuclear products worldwide. General Electric (NYSE:GE) was the worst performing Dow component because of its involvement with manufacturing nuclear reactors.

Many coal and oil based companies, such as Peabody Energy (NYSE:BTU) and Valero (NYSE:VLO), were able to buck the trend and advance on expectations demand for coal power would increase if nuclear power becomes unpopular.

Despite recent tumult that has sent stocks swinging between gains and losses, the Dow is still up 12.9% from last year, and 3.6% since the beggining of 2011.

"When you think about the volatility it really is impressive the market has been able to shake off as much as it has," Pado said.

Oil prices turned around ending the day higher by 3 cents, or 0.03%, to $101.19 after tumbling more than 2% on concerns Japanese demand for oil would sink. Escalating protests in oil-producing Bahrain help push prices higher in late trading. More than 1000 Saudi Arabian soldiers entered the country Monday morning to protect oil fields, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

Prices at the pump continue rising, hitting $3.56 for a gallon of regular on average nationwide, up from $3.13 last month and $2.79 a year ago, according to the AAA Fuel Gauge Report.

In currencies, The Japanese yen slipped from a four-month high following the actions by the Bank of Japan. The greenback was lower by 0.21% against a basket of world currencies.

Gold was up by $3.10, or 0.22%, to $1424 a troy ounce.

Corporate Movers

Toyota (NYSE:TM), Honda (NYSE:HMC) and Nissan temporarily suspended production in wake of the earthquake that hit Japan.

Berkshire Hathaway is acquiring chemical-maker Lubrizol (NYSE:LZ) for $9 billion, a 28% premium to the company's Friday closing price.

Sony (NYSE:SNE) and Hitachi (NYSE:HIT) are halting production at numerous plants as a result of damage caused by the earthquake.

Aflac (NYSE:AFL) reaffirmed its 2011 earnings target after shares of the insurer slipped over concerns about its heavy exposure to Japan.

Intel (NASDAQ:INTC) is acquiring most assets from SySDSoft, an Egyptian company that specializes in networking software.

Panasonic (NYSE:PC) plans on ramping up its battery production in a bid to counter severe power outages across Japan.

Cephalon's (NASDAQ:CEPH) patents for Fentora, its painkilling drug, were overturned by a federal court, potentially opening the door for drugmakers to market generic versions of the drug.

JA Solar Holdings (NASDAQ:JASO) shares soared after the Chinese solar-panel maker said its fourth-quarter earnings jumped 59 cents a share, far beating analysts' estimates of 48 cents.

Facebook hired a former member of Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) corporate development team to run its mergers and acquisitions division.

Foreign Markets

European stocks were mostly in the red following the selloff in Japan.

The English FTSE 100 slipped 0.92% to 5775, the French CAC 40 was down 1.3% to 3878 and the German DAX slid 1.7% to 6866.