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Stocks plunge as Japan nuclear crisis worsens

March 15, 2011

Stocks have closed sharply lower as the nuclear crisis in Japan weighed on global markets.

The stock market dropped sharply at the start of trading Tuesday on news that dangerous levels of radiation were leaking from a crippled nuclear plant. The plant was damaged in last week's earthquake and tsunami. Japan, the world's third-largest economy, accounts for 10 percent of U.S. exports.

"It's a situation where you sell, and you ask questions later," said Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at New York-based Avalon Partners.

After falling as much as 297 points, the Dow recovered and ended the day down 137 points, or 1.1 percent, to close at 11,885.

The S&P 500 index lost 15, or 1.1 percent, to 1,281. The Nasdaq composite index fell 34, or 1.2 percent, to 2,667.

Nearly four stocks fell for every one that rose on the New York Stock Exchange. Trading volume was 1.3 billion shares.

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