The Australian sharemarket closed in the black but volume was low for the quarter-end "window dressing" session as Chinese growth uncertainty, rising Ukraine tensions and US Federal Reserve tapering curbed enthusiasm.
The S&P/ASX 200 index opened firmly and traded in a tight range for most of the session before closing 27.9 points, or 0.52 per cent, up at 5394.8 on volume 25 per cent below average.
A drop in the Chinese yuan to 6.2250 to the US dollar, within a whisker of its one-year low, but short term Chinese bond yields fell on speculation the China would be forced to ease monetary conditions to alleviate credit risks in the world's second biggest economy.
The Shanghai composite index traded in and out of the red and was marginally firmer at the close of the ASX.
In Tokyo the Nikkei index was up 0.5 per cent despite a 2.3 per cent slump in Japan's February industrial production, the biggest since the Tsunami in 2011, and 1.5 point fall in the PMI manufacturing index to 53.9, a six-month low. Both measures were worse than forecast.
AllianceBernstein economist Guy Bruten said it was going to become more difficult to argue that things remained on track in Japan over the coming months as the consumption tax hike on starting tomorrow injected a large amount of uncertainty into Japan's economic picture
The Australian dollar slipped US0.4Â¢ to US92.20Â¢ along with the falling yuan.
Government 10-year bond yields were little changed at 4.075 per cent ahead of the Reserve Bank monetary policy meeting tomorrow where the consensus expectation is for no change to rates. The Reserve could, however, resume its efforts to "jawbone the currency lower.
Gold edged up $US3 to $US1296 an ounce, copper pared Friday's rally, sliding 0.5 per cent to $US6640 a tonne and spot iron ore was unchanged at $US112.30 a tonne on Friday.
More to come