Asian stock markets fall after UK factory production falls, German bank head issues warning

BANGKOK – Asian stock markets ran out of steam Wednesday after a sharp drop in Britain’s industrial production and a warning from the head of Germany’s central bank that the euro debt crisis isn’t over.

Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said Tuesday that the European Union needs to move ahead with reforms to keep troubles in the banking system from dragging down government finances.

He also urged faster reforms in the financially troubled countries, saying “only governments and not the central bank system” can solve the crisis.

Meanwhile, the British government issued data showing industrial production for January dropped sharply, a day after data released by the French government for factory output showed the same result.

The British data raised fears that Europe’s third-largest economy might be heading for its third recession in four years.

“The sharp drop in UK industrial production and a warning by the Bundesbank’s Weidmann that the euro zone crisis was not over added a dose of caution to the market,” said analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong.

Japan’s Nikkei 225 index fell 0.5 per cent to 12,251.70. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng lost 0.3 per cent to 22,816.89. South Korea’s Kospi was nearly unchanged at 1,993.42. Stocks in Singapore and mainland China also fell.

The Dow Jones industrial average edged higher to gain for an eighth straight day, logging its longest streak in more than two years. The Standard & Poor’s 500 index edged lower, ending its streak of gains at seven. The Dow rose marginally to close at 14,450.06. The S&P 500 fell 0.2 per cent to close at 1,552.48. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.3 per cent to 3,242.32.

Benchmark oil for April delivery was up 18 cents to $92.72 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 48 cents to close at $92.54 per barrel on the Nymex on Tuesday.

In currencies, the euro rose to $1.3033 from $1.3026 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar fell to 95.87 yen from 95.93 yen.


Follow Pamela Sampson on Twitter at