Japanese crises hit German energy and insurance shares

FRANKFURT, March 14, 2011 (AFP) - Stocks in German insurers and power companies plunged in early trading Monday as investors tried to determine how much they would suffer from the natural disasters and nuclear crises in Japan.

Shares in the world's biggest re-insurance group, Munich Re, were down by 4.43 percent at 106.8 euros, while general insurer Allianz had lost 3.40 percent to 96.43 euros.

On Friday, Munich Re had already lost 4.28 percent and Allianz 2.14 percent.

On the MDax index the re-insurance company Hannover Re showed a loss early Monday of 7.78 percent to 35.64 euros, after shedding 5.28 percent on Friday.

Insurance groups could face massive costs from the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on Friday, possibly killing more than 10,000 people according to the police chief in the Miyagi prefecture.

On Sunday a risk analysis by AIR Worldwide said the quake alone could exact an economic toll of up to $34.6 billion (25 billion euros).

A Munich Re statement said however that the subsequent crisis at a Japanese nuclear power plant "will probably not significantly affect private insurers."

German power companies were quickly affected on the other hand.

Stocks in the two biggest, EON and RWE, plummeted in morning trading on Monday as fears about nuclear power grew.

Shares in EON were off by 3.36 percent at 22.30 euros, and number two RWE showed a loss of 4.60 percent to 45.72 euros.

EON and RWE control most of the nuclear reactors in Germany, while the Swedish group Vattenfall is also active in the sector.

Germany has been debating whether to pursue use of nuclear power and the crisis at a tsunami-hit generating station in Japan will probably make it harder for power companies to overcome public opinion.

German operators have just obtained authorisations to prolong the operating lives of their plants even though the public in general is opposed to further reliance on nuclear power.

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