BANGKOK (AP) — 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 0.4 percent to 12,271.96 after the yen's fall against the dollar paused. The yen has been weak against other currencies in recent weeks because of expectations of monetary easing by the Bank of Japan under the leadership of its incoming chief, Haruhiko Kuroda.
Kuroda has been critical of the central bank's policies in the past and is thought to back Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's strategies for seeking to revive Japan's economy by fighting deflation through monetary easing and hefty government spending.
South Korea's Kospi reversed course and rose 0.2 percent to 1,996.37 after a lower open. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.5 percent at 5,091.90.
Hong Kong's Hang Seng shed 0.8 percent to 22,716.46. Stocks in mainland China also fell. The Shanghai Composite Index tumbled 1.2 percent to 2,260.19. The smaller Shenzhen Composite Index lost 1.6 percent at 920.69.
Linus Yip, strategist at First Shanghai Securities in Hong Kong, said investors were retreating because of renewed concerns about Europe's debt crisis and lagging growth.
But investors were also having a second look at China's economy and whether future growth can match past performance. The latest Chinese data, including retail sales and manufacturing, was below expectations, he said.
"At the end of the year, the market was expecting accelerating growth in mainland China. Market sentiment was pretty high," Yip said. "Right now, we don't say it is slowing down in mainland China, but maybe stable growth."
Among individual stocks, China Railway Construction Corp. fell 5.1 percent in Hong Kong. Japan's Nikon Corp. advanced 3.9 percent.
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 percent to close at 1,552.48. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.3 percent to 3,242.32.
Benchmark oil for April delivery was up 21 cents to $92.75 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 $1.3035 from $1.3026 late Tuesday in New York. The dollar fell to 95.75 yen from 95.93 yen.
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