The Australian sharemarket finished in the black as buy-the-dip traders shrugged off another round of weak domestic data and the negative lead from Wall Street.
The S&P/ASX 200 index gained 17.8 points, or 0.38 per cent, to 4708.1 points, with even consumer stocks gaining on average after a second month of disappointing retail sales.
November sales fell well short of forecasts with a 0.1 per cent decline compared to the flat pace in October, while pointing to further headwinds, jobs vacancies, one of ANZ economists' key leading indicators, also fell 6.9 per cent to a 30-month low after rising 4.1 per cent in October.
On the positive side, new home sales increased 4.7 per cent but remain well below historical levels.
"Ahead of Christmas, consumers were seemingly hesitant to spend any increase in disposable income, negating the hoped-for benefit from the RBA's rate cuts for the sector," Westpac economists said.
Overnight the US S&P 500 index slipped 0.2 per cent, and after the close aluminium giant Alcoa kicked off the earnings seasons by reporting profits in line with estimates and revenues higher than forecast.
"Key takeaways from this earnings season will include the need to focus on geographic quality of earnings generation," National Australia Bank head of fixed income research Michael Bush said. "One size does not fit all."
The Shanghai composite index was little changed at the close of the ASX, while Japan's Nikkei index reversed early losses to be 0.6 per cent up after the yen resumed weakness after a two-day consolidation.
The Australian dollar remained in a tight range at $US1.0495 as markets awaited further direction from credit markets on US and domestic interest rates to break the stalemate.
Copper fell 0.3 per cent to $US8058 a tonne as London Metal Exchange Inventories climbed to an 11-month high and those in Shanghai reached an eight-month high. Yesterday spot iron ore leapt another 3.2 per cent to $US158.80 a tonne.
More to come