The Australian sharemarket finished an unconvincing session in the black with miners lagging despite more weak domestic data.
The S&P/ASX 200 index finished a roller coaster sessions up 10.2 points, or 0.22 per cent, at 4719.7 points as domestic stocks held the line on expectations the worst of earnings downgrades had passed.
Miners were mixed to flat after spot iron ore fell $US3.80 to $US154.40 a tonne on Friday, while copper pared Friday's loss, climbing 0.5 per cent to $US8090 a tonne.
Signalling ongoing household and investor caution, Australian new housing finance declined 0.5 per cent in November despite the two rate cuts, short of expectations for a 0.5 per cent increase. Excluding refinancing, new lending fell 1.3 per cent.
ANZ job ads for December fell 3.8 per cent, the tenth straight decline in the measure and 20 per cent below the February peak.
After a slow start the Shanghai composite index leapt to a 2.1 per cent gain at the close of the ASX as pharmaceutical and tech stocks soared on speculation worsening air pollution would spur healthcare and environmental measures.
Japanese stocks were closed for a public holiday but the yen fell to a low after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Sunday he wanted someone "who can push through bold monetary policy" as the next governor of the Bank of Japan.
The Australian dollar slipped to a low of $US1.0535 on the domestic data, but followed the euro higher, hitting US1.0560 after US Federal Reserve president Charles Evan said in Hong Kong that policy would accommodative to support the economy while lawmakers reduced government spending to tame the country's budget deficit.
Fed chairman Ben Bernanke is expected to make similar comments in a speech tomorrow which would keep the US dollar under pressure.
On Friday Wall Street closed flat and the US dollar weakened further against the euro after a surge in consumer demand saw the US November trade deficit blow out to $US48.7 billion from $US42.1 billion.
Writing about the metals markets, Barclays analyst Gayle Berry wrote that the short-covering that followed the "temporary swerve over the US fiscal cliff" ran out of steam quickly once it became clear that there would not be "follow-through buying" from the Chinese.
"Chinese participation has been notably sedate and the physical markets are also showing little sign of any new-year buying appetite," she said.
"We see potential for further strength in base metals prices in the short term should financial market sentiment improve again and a risk-on environment materialise.
"However, such gains would be opportunities to short certain metals, in our view, given the outlook for surpluses this year in all the metals apart from tin."More to come
The new magazine for a new generation of West Australians.Click here to download »
All the latest market figures from Australia and the world.Click here »
'The West Australian' is a trademark of West Australian Newspapers Limited 2013.
All rights reserved.
Select your state to see news for your area.