Commodity-based shares proved a saving grace for ASX investors after they offset an Australian market mostly weighed by US rate rise worries.
Materials and energy shares each gained more than one per cent on Monday and helped the market close little changed.
Mining giants had a great day. South32 improved by three and a half per cent to $4.06.
BHP and Rio Tinto each improved by a little more than two per cent. Fortescue rose 1.33 per cent.
Energy shares did well despite oil prices having recently fallen from coronavirus infections impacting economic activity.
Woodside Petroleum was a standout among the big names. Its shares rose 2.33 per cent to $23.23.
Yet most categories were lower. Consumer discretionaries fared worst and lost more than one per cent.
Technology and healthcare lost about one per cent each.
The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 6.2 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 7447.1 points.
The All Ordinaries index closed lower by 8.3 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 7766.1 points.
US inflation figures on Thursday will be the key data release of the week.
Deep Data Analytics chief executive Mathan Somasundaram said many people were expecting a high reading of six or seven per cent (year-on-year).
He said the high inflationary environment was why the US Federal Reserve in meeting minutes last week revealed that it may start raising rates from March.
"They can see things getting worse," Mr Somasundaram said of inflation.
A rush on the US dollar could pose more problems, he said.
Foreign exchange traders may be attracted to the greenback due to the anticipated rate rises, but this would exacerbate inflation.
Inflation is not so high in Australia and the Reserve Bank has no need to convene before its next meeting in February.
On the ASX, equities manager VGI Partners confirmed it is talking to businesses including Regal Funds Management about merging.
VGI said the talks were in the early stages.
Investors got excited and sent shares higher by 11.13 per cent to $5.29.
Regal shares were lower by 1.5 per cent to $3.93.
Electric car battery producer Novonix will list on the Nasdaq to make the business more accessible to US investors.
The company supplies synthetic graphite anode material to US electric car makers and has started its Nasdaq application.
Shares were up 10.8 per cent to $10.36.
Explosives and fertiliser producer Incitec Pivot has agreed to buy a French explosives manufacturer called Titanobel.
Incitec will pay about $142 million from its cash and debt reserves in a bid to boost its European trade.
Shares were up 2.12 per cent to $3.37.
In banking, there were mixed results across the major players. The Commonwealth and Westpac were higher by less than one per cent. ANZ and NAB were lower by less than 0.2 per cent.
Lithium miner Liontown Resources found a provider for a mill which will be crucial to its flagship project in Western Australia.
Liontown is on course to produce lithium from 2024 from the Kathleen Valley after sealing a deal with Metso-Outotec.
Shares were up 0.65 per cent to $1.55.
The Australian dollar was buying 71.93 US cents at 1721 AEDT, higher from 71.59 US cents at Friday's close.
ON THE ASX
* The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index closed down 6.2 points, or 0.08 per cent, to 7447.1 points on Monday.
* The All Ordinaries index closed lower by 8.3 points, or 0.11 per cent, to 7766.1 points.
* At 1721 AEDT, the SPI200 futures index was even at 7339 points.
One Australian dollar buys:
* 71.93 US cents, from 71.59 cents on Friday
* 83.28 Japanese yen, from 83.02 yen
* 63.47 Euro cents, from 63.37 cents
* 52.94 British pence, from 52.86 pence
* 106.20 NZ cents, from 106.04 cents.