(Fixes indexes in fourth bullet point)
* Japan nuclear crisis escalates
* Oil prices rise on Bahrain violence
* IBM and Apple fall on analyst downgrades
* Indexes down: Dow 2.4 pct, S&P 2.4 pct, Nasdaq 2.2 pct
* For up-to-the-minute market news see [STXNEWS/US]
(Updates to afternoon trading, changes byline)
By Ryan Vlastelica
NEW YORK, March 16 U.S. stocks slumped more
than 2 percent on Wednesday in a third day of selling resulting
from Japan's crisis, and analysts saw further market volatility
The S&P 500, down 3.1 percent for the week, and the Nasdaq
composite indexes turned negative for the year after the chief
of the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog said the situation at a damaged
nuclear reactor in earthquake-stricken Japan was "very
serious." For details, see [ID:nLDE72E24B] and [ID:nWEA9026]
The comments drove investors to seek safety in bonds.
In another headwind for equities in a different part of the
globe, escalating violence in the Middle East caused Brent
crude to climb 1.9 percent. [ID:nL3E7ED0N9]
"What we're seeing with oil is the greatest supply risk in
years. What we're seeing in Japan is unlike anything we've seen
before," said Phil Flynn, senior market analyst with PFG Best
Flynn said Wall Street's fear gauge could be headed back
toward a significant marker.
"Based on the events now, it isn't impossible that the VIX
could get up to where it was at the height of the (financial)
crisis. It could triple," he said.
The CBOE market volatility index .VIX jumped 15 percent
and is up more than 40 percent this week. The IShares MSCI
Japan Index Fund (EWJ.P), which owns Japanese stocks, slid 4.1
percent to $9.62. The ETF is down 11 percent this week due to
uncertainties from the crisis, which began after Friday's
earthquake and tsunami.
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI was down 280.34
points, or 2.36 percent, at 11,575.08. The Standard & Poor's
500 Index .SPX was down 30.56 points, or 2.38 percent, at
1,251.31. The Nasdaq Composite Index .IXIC was down 58.64
points, or 2.20 percent, at 2,608.69.
Rising radiation levels in Japan caused workers to withdraw
briefly from a nuclear power plant and a helicopter was unable
to drop water to cool the most troubled reactor. Nikkei
dollar-denominated futures NKc1 were down 5.2
Nuclear-related stocks slid on bets the crisis would
cripple the industry's growth worldwide. Cameco Corp (CCJ.N)
shed 9.1 percent to $29.55 and Shaw Group SHAW.N dropped 3.7
percent. The Global X Uranium ETF (URA.P) lost 6.1 percent.
"We're not recommending any new purchases of uranium
stocks," said Joshua Brown, vice president of investments at
Fusion Analytics in New York. "The growth picture there is
night and day compared with last week."
U.S.-listed shares of Toyota Motor Co (TM.N) dropped 1.4
percent to $80.24 after the automaker said it would continue to
halt operations at its 12 main Japanese assembly plants.
Both Apple Inc (AAPL.O) and International Business Machines
Corp (IBM.N) sank after both received analyst downgrades. Apple
lost 3.8 percent to $332.38 and IBM was off 3.9 percent to
$152.77. [ID:nL3E7EG25D] [ID:nL3E7EG2F7]
(Reporting by Ryan Vlastelica; Editing by Kenneth Barry)