The Australian sharemarket edged up to a 20-month high but conviction and turnover was low as doubts over China's growth momentum capped interest in miners.
The S&P/ASX 200 index ranged in and out of the red before closing 6.2 points, or 0.13 per cent, up at 4777.5 points.
The Shanghai composite index was up 0.1per cent at the close of the ASX with weak consumer staple and technology stocks offsetting firmer property and industrial stocks.
In Tokyo the Nikkei index fell 0.9 per cent as the yen rallied from 30-month lows on profit taking ahead of the Bank of Japan policy meeting and statement due out tomorrow.
On Friday US stocks finished 0.3 per cent higher, shrugging off a fall in the University of Michigan consumer confidence index, on mildly positive earnings reports, but investors remained cautious ahead of a swathe of tech earnings reports, most notably from Google, Apple, Microsoft and IBM.
Spot iron ore eased US30Â¢ to $US145.30 a tonne on Friday while copper was little changed at $US8060 a tonne.
US Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed that hedge fund bullish speculation in commodities rose to a two-month high last week following firmer US housing starts and Chinese GDP growth.
However, Westpac economists said China's growth momentum was "not assured beyond the middle of 2013".
"The reversal of inventory dynamics (most spectacularly in the iron ore market) has exaggerated the strength of the recovery and the maturation of the re-stocking phase will remove that amplification in relatively short order. So while the economy is still accelerating in an underlying sense, as real estate joins infrastructure in describing a positive trajectory, with a monetary policy tailwind that will remain relevant until Q3, we are not far away from our first round of monthly data that 'disappoints' the extrapolative viewer," they said.
Gold rose $US6 to $US1690 an ounce on bullish broker reports and expectations the US dollar could weaken once US lawmakers reach an agreement to raise the debt ceiling.More to come
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