Asian markets fell yesterday as a weak set of Japanese economic figures sent Tokyo diving, while dealers looked ahead to a speech by Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke later in the day. Tokyo slipped 1.60%, or 143.87 points, to 8,839.91, Seoul edged down 0.07%, or 1.26 points, to 1,905.12, and Sydney nudged up 0.4 points to 4,316.1. Hong Kong shed 0.36%, or 70.34 points, to close at 19,482.57 and Shanghai lost 0.25%, or 5.07 points, to 2,047.52. In other markets; Taipei rose 0.35%, or 25.62 points, to 7,397.06; Manila closed 0.91% higher, adding 46.88 points to 5,196.19; Wellington rose 1.02%, or 37.12 points, to 3,666.68; Singapore closed up 0.45%, or 13.64 points, to 3,025.46; Jakarta closed 0.9%, or 34.75 points, higher, at 4,060.33; while Bangkok rose 1.06%, or 12.93 points, to 1,227.48. Kuala Lumpur was closed for a public holiday. There was fresh evidence that global headwinds were dragging on the Japanese recovery, with data showing factory output unexpectedly fell 1.2% in July, while the strong yen also hurt exporters. “It was originally assumed that the weakness in April-May would be temporary and followed by a rebound in summer. But such a scenario clearly fell through,” said Tatsushi Shikano, senior economist at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities. Adding to woes in the key European market and uncertainty in the US are growing fears about a slowdown in Asia, with shipments to China, South Korea and Singapore among those seeing big falls. Other figures yesterday showed Japanese consumer prices down 0.3% on-year in July, the third consecutive monthly fall, while unemployment was flat at 4.3%. Earlier this month data revealed a much worse-than-expected trade deficit in July of ¥517.4bn ($6.5bn). Attention was mostly focused on Jackson Hole, Wyoming, where Bernanke will address central bankers later in the day, with investors hoping he will announce plans for a new round of stimulus to kick-start the world’s biggest economy. But a slew of data in recent days suggesting a slow and steady US recovery—including rebounding consumer spending—has been interpreted as a sign he will hold off on further stimulus. The Dow fell 0.81%, the S&P 500 slid 0.78% and the Nasdaq 1.05%. Also weighing on sentiment was a sharp drop in eurozone business and consumer confidence and a fifth straight monthly rise in German unemployment. Also in Europe, France and Spain called for decisive action to curb crippling borrowing rates that are threatening Madrid and pushing it towards seeking a full bailout. French President Francois Hollande, who is in Spain to meet Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, prodded European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi to act, as the central bank works on plans to restart a bond-buying scheme aimed at helping under-pressure economies. From gulf times.