BOSTON (TheStreet) -- Toyota Motor (TM), Sony (SNE) and other Japanese American Depositary Receipts, or ADRs, were sinking Friday in the aftermath of one of the largest earthquakes in Japan's history.
The offshore earthquake hit Japan Friday afternoon, measuring a magnitude of 8.9 on the Richter scale and triggering a tsunami. Video footage showed tsunami waves that swept over towns, fields, and even airports. Effects of the tsunami were felt along the coast of Hawaii hours later. Asian stock exchanges dropped in reaction, with the Nikkei tumbling 1.7% and Hong Kong's Hang Seng down 1.5%.
The earthquake's total impact to Japan's economy may not be measurable for some time, although history provides some context. The Kobe earthquake in January 1995 was one of the most expensive in history, causing more than $100 billion in damage. Measuring 6.8 on the U.S. Geological Survey's Moment magnitude scale, the Kobe earthquake resulted in the collapse of Barings Bank after a rogue trader at the U.K. bank made speculative derivatives trades that the Nikkei index would recover.
Japanese ADRs, which trade on U.S. exchanges, were losing ground in early trading Friday. Automakers were the hardest hit, asToyota (TM) shares fell 2.1% to $85.66, Honda Motor (HMC) sank 2.2% to $39.84 and Nissan Motor (NSANY) was down 2.2% to $19.02. The Associated Press reported that one worker at a Honda assembly plant was killed by a collapsing wall. All three of these automakers halted production in areas hit by the earthquake, the report said. Japanese financial stocks were also losing ground. Financial services company Orix Corp (IX) dropped 2.4% to $52.83. Meanwhile, Mizuho Financial Group (MFG) lost 2.3% to $3.88 and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group (SMFG) was sliding 2% to $6.91. Electronics makers, which rely heavily on exporting to other countries, saw ADRs in the U.S. fall Friday. Sony (SNE) shares slid 2.8% to $33.31. Elsewhere, Panasonic (PC) was down 2.2% to $12.68, Hitachi (HIT) fell 2.1% to $59.19 and Canon (CAJ) dipped 0.7% to $45.73. Video game maker Nintendo (NTDOY), which trades on the Pink Sheets, was down 2.3% to $34.14. Japanese telecom providers were also falling. NTT DoCoMo (DCM) lost 1.4% to $18.31 and Nippon Telegraph & Telephone (NTT) shares slipped 0.9% to $24.02. -- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston.
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