Shares in UK insurance firms took a hammering on the London market Friday amid fears of mammoth claims from Japan’s devastating earthquake and tsunami.
Stocks across the European insurance sector slumped into the red, hitting even those with little or no exposure to Japan, dealers said.
The wider FTSE 100 Index fell by more than 45 points at one stage before recovering to stand 19 points lower at 5826.5 in a gloomy end to a tough week for global stock markets.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 plunged 1.7 percent to a five-week low as the quake occurred just before the close of trading in Tokyo.
Stocks were already suffering after the Dow Jones Industrial Average on Wall Street suffered its biggest one-day drop since August on Thursday night and China reported unexpectedly high inflation.
Meanwhile, Oil prices also dipped below 100 US dollars a barrel for the first time this month, as the quake is likely to cut short-term demand for crude from Japan, which is the world’s third biggest oil consumer.
Benchmark crude for April delivery fell 2.82 dollars to 99.88 dollars a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange.
Among stocks in London, reinsurers – who insure insurers – were the worst hit, the dealers said.