Stocks in Tokyo rebounded sharply Wednesday after posting near record losses during the previous two days. The Nikkei 225 average rose 5.7% to 9,093.72, while the broader Topix index climbed 6.6% to 817.63 by the close.
Investors from across the region continued to be transfixed by reports from northern Japan that indicate the country’s nuclear crisis is still far from being contained.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano said the radiation level had risen in the area around the Fukushima Daiichi power plant most likely due to steam escaping from the No. 3 reactor.
A new fire was reported at the No. 4 reactor on Wednesday morning, but appeared to be extinguished about 30 minutes later, according to the plant’s operator Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco).
The utility company said it was considering spraying water from helicopters and fire trucks to prevent the plant’s nuclear fuel rods from overheating. Tepco fears some of the fuel rods may become exposed if the water in their storage pools is allowed to boil down too low.
The status of those pools and the earlier fire was unclear because the plant’s workers were forced to seek refuge indoors from dangerously high radiation levels. (See “Tokyo Dispatch: Smoke, Confusion And Fear As Nuclear Crisis Mounts.”)
An exodus of people from Tokyo is building as the threat of rising radiation levels is prompting many to flee the capital. Conflicting reports from government officials and Tepco has heightened public concerns.
Meanwhile, most other markets in the region also finished higher on Wednesday. South Korea’s Kospi Composite closed with a gain of 1.8%, Taiwan’s Taiex finished 1.1% higher and Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 rose 0.7% by the close.
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Japanese Stocks Rebound Despite Growing Radiation Fears