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Japanese disaster rattles world stock markets

London: World markets went into a tailspin on Friday as tremors from the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan shook investors` sentiment already bogged down by political unrest in the oil-rich Middle East and North Africa region.

Asian stocks slumped into red with most of the region`s markets shedding over one per cent while European bourses were shaky in early afternoon trade.

The disaster has sent shock waves across the global economy, which is already grappling with Libyan crisis, high oil prices, European debt woes and brewing turmoil in Saudi Arabia.

In one of the worst natural calamities, a strong earthquake followed by tsunami took a severe toll on people and property in Japan. Further, many countries including New Zealand and Indonesia have issued tsunami warnings.

Japanese benchmark Nikkei 225 Index tumbled by 1.72 per cent to 10254.40 as disaster struck before the closing.

Taking cues, Hong Kong`s Hang Seng tanked 1.55 per cent to 23249.80 while China`s key Shanghai SE Composite index dropped nearly one per cent to 2933.80.

Stock markets in South Korea, Australia and Singapore too fell over one per cent. India`s 30-share Sensex declined about one per cent to close at 18174.10.

European shares were trading lower as investors in the region are hit by concerns of not just the Japanese disaster but also Spanish debt crisis and soaring oil prices.

London Stock Exchange`s FTSE 100 Index slipped to 5807.59 and Germany`s Dax Index was down over one per cent at 6979.47. France`s benchmark CAC 40 declined 1.1 per cent to 3920.31.

Rating agency Moody`s has downgraded Spain`s credit rating, triggering further concerns about the overall health of European economy.

On Thursday, American stocks slumped nearly 2 per cent as investors went on selling spree.

Dow Jones Industrial Average fell to 11984.60 while S&P 500 shed 1.89 per cent to 1295.11. The broad-based Nasdaq Composite Index dropped 1.84 per cent to 2701.02.

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