The New Zealand sharemarket reversed a small decline to start the week in the black, but few stocks made any moves of significance.

The benchmark NZX-50 index lost a few points as the session kicked off but closed up 6.1 points at 3324.1, nearly making up Friday's 7.8-point loss.

Among the top stocks, Telecom was unchanged at 218, Contact Energy rose a cent to 619, Fletcher Building was flat at 778, and Auckland Airport lost 2c to 222.

Sky City gained 2c to 336, Sky TV was up 5c at 525 and Infratil gained 3c to 194.

Retailers were mixed, after figures were released showing a modest improvement in December spending accompanied by signs of consumer caution.

The Warehouse rose 4c to 343, Hallenstein Glasson lost a cent to 416, Pumpkin Patch gained a cent to 173 and Kathmandu Holdings eased 2c to 180.

Fast food operator Restaurant Brands jumped 6c, or more than 2 per cent, to 268. Also on the rise were Mainfreight, up 4c at 799, Property for Industry, up 3c at 116, and Ebos Group, up 4c at 740.

Dual-listed stocks were largely weaker. Westpac was down 69 at 2880 and ANZ off 34c at 2976, AMP fell 18c to 677, and Telstra lost 5c to 363.

Australia's S&P/ASX 200 Index was up 5 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 4710, and Japan's Nikkei share average was up a similar amount.

In the US stocks closed with modest losses on Friday (local time) after a mixed unemployment report dampened sentiment and as bank stocks took a bashing following a court ruling on home foreclosures.

The US Labor Department reported a sharp fall in the unemployment rate in December to 9.4 per cent, but at the same time, the economy created 103,000 jobs, many fewer than the 150,000 forecast by analysts.

Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke warned on Friday that the current rate of job creation was "insufficient" and meant a "considerable time" will be needed to right the jobs market.

- NZPA