BANGKOK (AP) -- Asian stock markets were mostly lower Tuesday, rattled by a political impasse in Greece that could lead the debt-stricken country to a destabilizing exit from the euro currency union.
Greece has been unable to form a coalition government since voters gave support to political parties that want to cancel or renegotiate the terms of a massive financial bailout by international lenders that requires harsh austerity measures.
If Greece walks away from its debts, an exit from the euro currency would be likely, and the effects would ripple through the rest of Europe and its struggling economies. Some investors fear other weak euro countries could eventually take the same path.
"The eurozone debt crisis continues to dominate the headlines. The exit of Greece from the single currency has become probable. Not so long ago it was impossible," analysts at DBS Bank Ltd. in Singapore said in an email.
Japan's Nikkei 225 index fell 0.8 percent to 8,905.38. Earlier, the index briefly hit 8,838.78, its lowest intraday level since Feb. 3.
South Korea's Kospi index slipped 0.6 percent to 1,901.49. Australia's S&P/ASX 200 lost 0.6 percent to 4,269.40. Benchmarks in Indonesia and mainland China also fell.
But Hong Kong's Hang Seng, which some analysts said was oversold after more than a week of losses, rebounded 0.4 percent to 19,816.55.
"We witnessed some signs of stabilizing, the market is not falling sharply like the previous days," said Francis Lun, managing director of Lyncean Holdings in Hong Kong. "So I think we have a high chance of ending the eight-day loosing streak, but still the prospect for the market in May is still quite gloomy."
Japan's export sector was battered as the yen stayed strong against the euro and the dollar. Isuzu Motors Ltd. tumbled 5.3 percent. Yamaha Motor Co. lost 5.2 percent. Nikon Corp. dropped 2.8 percent.
Australian resource shares slumped following a drop in commodity prices for industrial and precious metals. Energy Resources of Australia Ltd. plunged 5.3 percent. BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining company, fell 2.3 percent.
Problems in Europe were compounded by the loss in a state election for German Chancellor Angela Merkel's party and — by extension — her austerity policies. The release later Tuesday of data expected to show the eurozone in recession also caused jitters.
The ongoing political stalemate in Greece drove U.S. stocks lower. The Dow Jones industrial average closed down 1 percent at 12,695.35. The Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 1.1 percent to 1,338.35. The Nasdaq composite average dropped 1.1 percent to 2,902.58.
Benchmark oil for June delivery was down 48 cents to $94.30 a barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract fell $1.35 to settle at $94.78 in New York on Friday.
In currencies, the euro fell to $1.2831 from $1.2847 late Monday in New York. The dollar rose to 79.88 yen from 79.86 yen.
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