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Auto Stocks Slammed by Mideast, Japanese Crises; Will Consumers Feel the Heat, too?

Rising pump prices could be followed by shortages, price premiums on some Japanese vehicles.

by on Mar.14, 2011

Over 1,300 Infiniti vehicles were destroyed at one Japanese port. The G25 is shown here, though it's not clear which models were ruined.

Automotive stocks are being battered by twin crises at opposite ends of the world.  Just how long things will continue to worsen – and how bad they will get – is almost impossible to predict, industry analysts are warning.

But investors aren’t the only ones who could soon feel the impact.  The Libyan crisis has already taxed on what some call a “crisis tax” to what U.S. motorists are paying at the pump.  The Japanese earthquake and tsunami will almost certainly have at least some impact on the availability of products from makers like Toyota, Nissan and Honda.  And that could translate into not only waiting lines but higher prices, observers warn.

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It was not a good day for Wall Street, overall, the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipping below 12,000 points for the first time in nearly two months.  But automotive stocks were particularly hard hit by concerns about oil prices, the Japanese disaster – and the threat of a weakened economy.  General Motors, which last week saw shares dip below its $33 IPO price, slipped another 34 cents, to $31.59, at the closing bell.