Stocks Set To Fall As Japan Crisis Worsens

Stocks are headed for a sharply lower opening Tuesday, and bond prices are rising, as the nuclear crisis in Japan intensifies following a deadly earthquake and tsunami.

Dangerous levels of radiation began leaking from a crippled nuclear plant Tuesday, forcing Japan to order 140,000 people to stay indoors.

Japan's prime minister also warned that more leaks could occur.

Japan's Nikkei 225 stock average fell more than 1,000 points, or 11 percent for the day. The index fell 6 percent Monday.

In the U.S., Dow Jones industrial average futures fell 271 points, or 2.3 percent, to 11,655 ahead of the opening bell.

Standard & Poor's 500 index futures fell 35 points, or 2.7 percent, to 1,255. Nasdaq 100 index futures fell 70, or 3.1 percent, to 2,220.

Peter Cardillo, chief market economist at New York-based brokerage house Avalon Partners, said fear had taken hold in the market as traders worried about the nuclear crisis and a possible slowdown in Japan's economy, the world's third-largest.

"It's a situation where you sell, and you ask questions later," he said.

Oil prices fell $3.95 to $97.22 as analysts anticipated lower demand in the aftermath of the earthquake.

Other commodities, including gold, silver and copper, also fell.

Investors flocked to the relative safety of U.S. Treasurys, sending prices higher and yields lower.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note dropped to 3.23 percent from 3.36 percent late Monday.

In corporate news, Impax Laboratories Inc. rose 6 percent in pre-market trading after a Collins Stewart analyst said a potential Parkinson's disease treatment could generate as much as $400 million in annual U.S. sales.

Later in the morning, the National Association of Home Builders releases its index of builder sentiment.

It's expected to show that homebuilders are still pessimistic about the housing recovery.

But many builders are hoping that the busy spring season will help
boost sales.

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