Asian stock markets fell Tuesday, after Europe's finance ministers postponed approval of an urgently needed aid payment for debt-mired Greece.
The ministers, meeting Monday in Brussels, gave Greece two more years, until 2016, to cut its deficit and make changes to its economy. But they delayed approval of the next installment of a huge bailout loan — some €31.5 billion ($40 billion), intended to keep the country temporarily afloat.
Analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said in a market commentary that the Eurogroup meeting did not "result in an agreement to deliver Greece its next loan tranche but this came as no surprise."
The European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission have twice agreed to bail out Greece, pledging a total of €240 billion in rescue loans. The country has received about €150 billion of those loans so far, in exchange for making tough budget cuts and sweeping reforms to its labor market and bureaucracy.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.3 percent to 8,647.28. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 1 percent at 21,211.94. South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.7 percent to 1,887.51. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 fell 1.1 percent to 4,399.70.
Markets continued their slump from Monday, when government data released in New Delhi showed India's industrial production contracting 0.4 percent in September, far worse than expected. Manufacturing output continued to slump amid signs of weakness in investment and consumer demand.
The results indicate that Asia's third-largest economy still has a way to go to pull itself out of its current slowdown.
The fiscal cliff refers to government spending cuts and tax increases that are scheduled to kick in at the beginning of the new year, unless a divided Congress and the White House can work out a compromise before then.
The Dow Jones industrial average finished down 0.31 points at 12,815.08. The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 0.18 points to 1,380.03. The Nasdaq composite index fell 0.61 points to 2,904.26.
Benchmark oil for December delivery fell 36 cents to $85.21 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell 50 cents to finish at $85.57 per barrel.
In currencies, the euro fell to $1.2683 from $1.2714 late Monday in New York. The dollar from fell to 79.41 yen from 79.46 yen.