The share market has closed flat but close to a 17-month high.
Concerns about whether US politicians will reach a debt deal before the end-of-year fiscal deadline offset good news on a continued pick-up in China's manufacturing sector.
The All Ordinaries closed just two points higher at 4,595 and the ASX200 ended where it started at 4,583.
The HSBC index, a gauge of China's manufacturing activity, rose to a 14-month high this month, adding to recent signs that the world's second-largest economy is on its way to recovery.
Resource stocks came off session lows as a result and achieved modest gains by the close.
BHP Billiton added a fifth of a per cent, while Rio Tinto rose 0.4 per cent.
They are now both around seven-month highs.
The banks weighed on trade by the close; after a positive start NAB ended flat, ANZ lost three cents, while Commonwealth was out in front with a 0.6 per cent gain.
Shares in oil refiner and marketer Caltex ended 1.5 per cent higher after flagging a return to profit after last year's significant loss.
On the economics front, a leading international economic think-tank says Australia's economy is one of the best but some major policy changes are needed to keep it competitive.
It suggests possibly giving up on the budget surplus, lifting productivity and improving labour market flexibility.
It also suggests scrapping subsidies to uncompetitive sectors like the car industry and manufacturing, cutting the corporate tax rate, setting up a sovereign wealth fund and scrapping state mining royalties.
They are all similar recommendations to the Henry tax review.
The Australian dollar gained ground throughout trade and around 5pm (AEDT) was worth 105.4 US cents.
It was also buying 80.4 euro cents, 65.3 British pence and 88.5 Japanese yen.
West Texas crude was higher at $US85.30 a barrel, Tapis was close to $US114, and spot gold was down to $US1,698 an ounce.