GE Falls on Ties to Japan Nuclear Plants

(GE article updated with additional commentary and information on nuclear industry players.)
NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- General Electric (GE) shares are sliding as GE-designed nuclear power reactors in Japan were damaged in Japan's massive earthquake and investor confidence in Japan's nuclear power future crumbles.

Shares of GE were falling 3.7% to $19.60, while its nuclear venture partner Hitachi ( HIT) was plunging 15.4% to $50.04.

The unfolding nuclear crisis in Japan has called into question the nuclear energy policy of the U.S. and other nations, as policy makers balance safety issues with the need to develop alternative, clean sources of energy to reduce oil dependency.

Already, the Swiss government has suspended all plans to build and replace nuclear plants. Germany has suspended a plan to extend the lives of Germany's 17 nuclear plants. The government has said it will conduct an extensive review of the plans' safety and the country's atomic energy policy.

German environmental minister Norbert Roettgen said over the weekend that the government will look to accelerate the use of alternative energies.

Alternative energy and natural gas sectors were surging on Monday in anticipation of stronger demand.

First Solar ( FSLR) was popping 4.8% to $146.49, Trina Solar ( TSL) was surging 9.1% to $26.45, Yingli Green Energy ( YGE) was gaining 8.8% to $11.43 and Suntech Power ( STP) was advancing 5.1% to $8.45.

Chesapeake Energy ( CHK) was up 2.8% to $33.74.

In the U.S., shares of the largest nuclear reactor operators Exelon ( EXC) and Entergy ( ETR) were losing 2.5% and 5.5% respectively.

Meanwhile, uranium miners Denison Mines ( DNN) and Uranium Resources ( URRE) were plunging over 25% in afternoon trading.

This, as GE continues to express belief in the resurgence of nuclear power demand. Since 2007, the U.S. conglomerate and Japanese electricity generation and electronic device company Hitachi have been partners in a nuclear joint venture. GE's chairman Jeffrey Immelt said that the conglomerate will be providing its partner with technical support in an effort to avert a nuclear crisis.

One of the GE-designed reactors at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant in Japan, where the explosions have taken place over the last few days, began operating 40 years ago.

Since the earthquake struck last Friday, there's been at least two explosions at the Dai-ichi nuclear plant, hurting at least 11 workers.

Water levels have plummeted there, exposing the fuel rods and threatening a meltdown.

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-- Written by Andrea Tse and Shanthi Bharatwaj in New York.

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