Global stocks fell overnight on worries about Washington's ability to resolve the "fiscal cliff" before nearly $600 billion worth of spending cuts and tax increases kicks in.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index dropped for a second day and closed below its 200-day moving average for the first time in five months on Thursday, signaling a weaker trend. It closed down more than 1 percent at its lowest since Aug. 2.
MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was down 0.2 percent, Reuters reported, after sliding 1.3 percent on Thursday for its biggest one-day percentage drop in two months.
Australian shares slipped 0.8 percent, with big banks and miners dropping after losses on Wall Street. South Korean shares dropped 0.7 percent and Japan's Nikkei average fell 0.9 percent. Shanghai was about flat.
As investors reduced exposure to risk assets, bids for safety lifted such assets as U.S. Treasuries, pushing the benchmark 10-year yield down to 1.618 percent from Wednesday's 1.644 percent.
The dollar hovered near a two-month high against a basket of major currencies of 81.001 hit on Thursday, benefiting from rising demand for Treasuries on the back of the looming U.S. fiscal crisis.
The euro remained pressured at $1.2741, just above a two-month low of $1.2717 touched on Thursday.