Stock market down after Japan disaster

By Theresa Schmidt - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The Dow Jones lost more than 50 points on Monday and the NASDAQ and S&P also posted similar losses in the wake of the disaster in Japan.

Two hard hit stocks belonged to Two Louisiana companies with heavy interests in the nuclear industry. Shares of Baton Rouge-based Shaw Group slid nearly 20% during the day, but rallied to close down just over 9% or $3.54 a share...

Shaw has a 20% investment in Westinghouse nuclear power and has the contracts for several new nuclear plants in the United States and China.

And Shaw has built a nuclear modular components manufacturing facility here in south of Lake Charles. Shaw Chief Executive Jim Bernhard says he doesn't expect the problems in Japan to have an effect on the company's projects. He says Shaw's customers "have indicated they intend to move forward."

And shares of Entergy Corporation dropped too. Losing nearly 5% or $3.60. It owns or manages 12 nuclear power plants in the United States.

Still at least one local financial advisor says it's really too early to tell what influence the situation in Japan will have on the U.S. financial market.

The situation in Japan is heart wrenching from its human toll and frightening as the world watches events unfold with nuclear power plants there. First and foremost says financial advisor Reed Mendelson, it's not the time to talk about money at a time the human tragedy is so great. That said, Mendelson says, "Saying the Stock Market is down today because of Japan is kind of short sighted. It may be the excuse but they still got trouble in Libya and Tunisia and the Middle East and we still got a Congress that can't make up their mind what to do about the budget."

He thinks how the situation effects financial markets and stocks of interest in our area will depend on how it all plays out with the nuclear power plants. "We're going to have to come up with an energy policy that is either nuclear, coal, carbon based, no matter how you feel about the issues, it's really going to be all of those things, but we just have to do it in such a way that best protects our environment. It's a scary situation with Japan, but actually, as we go down the road, what we may find out is, the technology works."

Right now he is optimistic considering that,  at last word, what has been released into the atmosphere was not life threatening.  Says Mendelson, "I talked to a nuclear engineer this morning, I really did. And it will dissipate rapidly. It's really a short lived problem. What's going into the air are evaporated gases that may or may not have some level of dissipating nuclear particles in it. That's not what happened when you had the melt down at Chernobyl."

And so the world watches and waits to see resolution of a situation that will no doubt have a huge influence on the future of nuclear energy development.

To listen to more of our conversation with Reed click here.

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