BANGKOK — A weaker-than-expected U.S. manufacturing report sent Asian stock markets down Tuesday.
U.S. manufacturing shrank in November to its weakest level since July 2009. The Institute for Supply Management said Monday that its index of manufacturing conditions fell 49.5 from October's 51.7. Numbers above 50 signal growth, while those below indicate contraction.
One reason for the downturn, the trade group said, was that businesses are concerned about the so-called fiscal cliff – a package of tax increases and government spending cuts that will take effect in 2013 unless lawmakers take action. Worries about automatic tax increases cut demand for factory orders and manufacturing jobs.
"Once again, there were few tangible signs of any material progress on the fiscal cliff, the single biggest issue in markets right now and one that will influence how all asset classes trade into year-end," said Cameron Peacock of IG Markets in Melbourne in a market commentary.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.2 percent to 9,441.75. Hong Kong's Hang Seng lost 0.2 percent to 21,728.80. South Korea's Kospi fell 0.5 percent to 1,930.68. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 shed 0.3 percent to 4,518.10.
The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 0.5 percent to close at 12,965.60. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 0.5 percent to close at 1,409.46. The Nasdaq composite fell 0.3 percent to 3,002.20.
Benchmark oil for January delivery was down 18 cents to $88.91 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 18 cents to close at $89.09 in New York on Monday.
In currencies, the euro fell to $1.3050 from $1.3060 late Monday in New York. The dollar fell to 82.07 yen from 82.24 yen.