The Australian market was slightly lower at noon with competing good and bad news including stronger commodity prices and US "fiscal cliff" worries producing a flat market.
At 1222 AEDT on Friday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index had fallen 11.4 points, or 0.2 per cent, at 4,571.7 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index had dropped 9.0 points, or 0.2 per cent, to 4,586.1 points.
On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was five points lower at 4,576 points, with 23,831 contracts traded.
CMC Markets chief market analyst Ric Spooner said the market appeared to be caught in a vice between positive and negative factors.
The strong jump in iron ore prices to nearly $US130 a tonne and victory to conservative Shinzo Abe in Japan's election had set a positive tone for the region.
"From short term trading point of view it carries with it the likelihood of more stimulus for the Japanese economy and is supportive I think for world growth and big commodity markets in particular," he said.
However the only way for the market was down in reacting to the US fiscal cliff negotiations because markets had already priced in a benign outcome and we now getting nervous about any negative news.
Negotiations continue on how to avoid a series of tax hikes and spending cuts coming into affect on January 1, otherwise known as the "fiscal cliff".
Locally, the mining giants were in positive territory as iron ore prices continued to rise.
BHP Billiton was up 30 cents to $36.37, Rio Tinto had gained 29 cents to $63.29 and Fortescue added 12 cents, or 2.8 per cent to $4.43.
Fortescue had announced that it was considering selling a small interest in its rail and port infrastructure.
The banks were trading in negative territory.
ANZ was 23.5 cents lower at $24.415, CBA had dropped 33 cents to $61.33, Westpac was 23.5 cents worse to $25.755 and NAB was relatively flat, down one cent to $24.59.
In other local news, shares in Fairfax Media have jumped in response to the announced sale of its remaining stake in the New Zealand-based online auction and classifieds site Trade Me.
Fairfax was up 1.25 cents, or 2.5 per cent, at 52.25 cents.
Shares in surfwear retailer Billabong have soared on reports former director Paul Naude has made a formal offer for the struggling company.
Billabong shares were up 4.5 cents, or 4.8 per cent, at 98 cents.