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Wall Street plummets on Japan nuclear threat

NEW YORK, Mar 15 – Panic selling hit the US stock market Tuesday amid fears that a nuclear meltdown in quake-hit Japan could threaten the global economy.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell around two percent in opening trade, losing over 250 points.

The New York Stock Exchange reportedly invoked a rarely used rule to smooth trading volatility, but to little avail as the prospects of multiple nuclear meltdowns at the Fukushima No.1 complex haunted the markets.

"The global equity markets are posting solid losses following reports of rising nuclear radiation levels in Japan after more explosions hit an already damaged nuclear power facility," said analysts at Charles Schwab.

Four days after the world\’s third largest economy was struck by a massive earthquake and punishing tsunami, traders are still no closer to having a clear picture about spill-over risks.

Amid the concern billions of dollars were wiped of US share values, with blue chip stalwarts General Electric, Bank of America and Caterpillar posting heavy losses. GE, which sells nuclear technology, was down 4.5 percent.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was 255.77 points lower (2.13 percent) at 11,737.39, after shedding over 51 points the day before.

The tech-rich Nasdaq Composite dropped 70.79 points (2.62 percent) to 2,630.18 and the S&P 500-stock index, a broader measure of the markets, shed 31.40 points (2.42 percent) at 1,264.99.

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