BANGKOK (AP) — 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, delayed approval of the next €31.5 billion ($40 billion) installment of Greece's bailout loan. They did give Greece two additional years — until 2016 — to make fundamental changes to its economy that are a condition of its emergency bailout package.
International lenders have twice agreed to bail out Greece to keep the country from defaulting on its massive debts and a messy exit from the euro currency union. They have pledged a total of €240 billion in rescue loans, and the country has received about €150 billion of those loans so far.
Analysts at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong said in a market commentary that the failure to deliver Greece's next installment "came as no surprise."
"The Asian region is weaker as Greece concerns continue to cap markets and dent confidence. After having been in a holding pattern, markets have finally given up their grip on some key support levels," said Stan Shamu of IG Markets in Melbourne.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.3 percent to 8,650.99. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.8 percent at 21,267.03. South Korea's Kospi dropped 0.7 percent to 1,887.23. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 tumbled 1.5 percent to 4,379.80.
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.
U.S. stocks closed nearly unchanged Monday, after a day of uneven trading plagued by investors' fears about the approaching "fiscal cliff."
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 54 cents to $85.03 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 $1.2682 from $1.2714 late Monday in New York. The dollar from fell to 79.31 yen from 79.46 yen.