Business Highlights

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
Monday, March 14, 2011; 6:42 PM


Japan central bank feeds markets money after quake

TOKYO - Japan's central bank pumped a record $184 billion into money markets and took other measures to protect a teetering economy Monday, as the Tokyo stock market nose-dived following a devastating earthquake and tsunami.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 stock average slid 6.2 percent in its first day of trading since the 8.9-magnitude quake centered on northeastern Japan struck Friday, triggering enormous waves that swamped towns and killed thousands.

Escalating concerns about the financial and economic fallout - plus the risk of meltdown at damaged nuclear power reactors - triggered a plunge that hit all sectors of the stock market. The broader Topix index lost 7.5 percent.

The Bank of Japan moved quickly to try to keep financial markets calm. By flooding the banking system with cash, it hopes banks will continue lending money and meet the likely surge in demand for post-earthquake funds.


Japan quake to cost insurers almost like Katrina

LONDON - Japan's devastating earthquake and tsunami may cost the global insurance industry as much as $60 billion, which would make the disaster the most expensive ever behind Hurricane Katrina, according to early estimates.

Global insurance stocks took a hit on Monday as traders reacted to images of flattened towns and ravaged coast lines, but analysts stressed there are some mitigating factors, including the fact that damage to residential property is covered by a state-backed system and that nuclear damage is excluded from policies.

Analysts said those elements mean insurance costs will likely fall short of those associated with the Gulf Coast's Hurricane Katrina in 2005, though the full cost of Friday's 8.9 magnitude quake won't be known for some time.

Expenses will continue to mount due to ongoing aftershocks from the massive March 11 earthquake off the coast of northeast Japan and shutdowns at electronics factories, car manufacturers and oil refineries. The official death toll of 2,800 is expected to rise above 10,000.

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