TORONTO - The Toronto stock market closed lower amid growing skepticism about whether American lawmakers can keep the U.S. economy from going over the so-called fiscal cliff.

The S&P/TSX composite index dropped 57.64 points to 12,316.12 as the clock ticked towards huge spending cuts and significant tax increases that will automatically click in south of the border after Dec. 31 if there is no budget deal.

Economists warn the imposition of those measures could tip the U.S. back into recession and depress other economies around the globe unless the White House and Congress find a compromise budget plan.

The Canadian dollar was down 0.16 of a cent at 100.35 cents US.

U.S. markets were also lower with losses accelerating late in the day on word that President Barack Obama did not present a new budget offer during a meeting with Congressional leaders this afternoon.

The Dow industrials closed down 158.2 points to 12,938.11, the Nasdaq dropped 25.59 points to 2,960.31 and the S&P 500 index declined 15.67 points to 1,402.43.