14/11/2011 - 14:13

Market cautious despite European changes

14/11/2011 - 14:13

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Market cautious despite European changes

Australian shares closed marginally higher as investors remained cautious despite changes of leadership in Italy and Greece.

At the close, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 8.1 points, or 0.19 per cent, at 4,304.6, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 10.5 points, or 0.24 per cent, at 4,369.1.

The December share price index futures contract was 17 points higher at 4,326 points, with 34,102 contracts traded.

IG Markets analyst Chris Weston said caution had taken hold later in the day.

Australian shares opened strongly and rose by as much as 1.5 per cent before falling away later in the day.

"There's no conviction in this market and volumes have been woeful," Mr Weston said.

Turnover was 1.79 billion securities worth $3.87 billion, with about two shares rising for every one that fell on the ASX 200.

Investors had looked at the political developments in Greece and Italy with a "glass half empty" approach amid concerns about European Central Bank bond issuances.

This week, investors would look cautiously towards debt raising in Spain, Italy and France.

The major resources stocks were relatively mixed, with BHP Billiton down 30 cents at $37.50 and Rio Tinto up 77 cents at $68.62.

Fortescue Metals rose five cents, or 1.04 per cent, to $4.87.

Steel maker BlueScope Steel added $1.50 to $78.50.

Africa-focused uranium miner Paladin Energy posted a much bigger net loss for the September quarter than a year earlier after booking an impairment charge for its Kayelekera mine in Malawi.

Paladin shares were 12 cents higher at $1.61.

Among the major banks, ANZ lost cents to $20.66, Commonwealth Bank rose 27 cents to $49.86, Westpac was one cent firmer at $21.05 and National Australia Bank was down two cents at $24.56.

Qantas shares were three cents higher at $1.64 after chief executive Alan Joyce said he was hopeful the airline would reach contract agreements with workers by next Monday's deadline.

Fertiliser and explosives maker Incitec Pivot shares were down five cents at $3.47 even though it lifted annual profit by 13 per cent and said 2012 would be a transition year for its Asia-Pacific explosives business.

Paints maker DuluxGroup redicted it would be more profitable fiscal 2012 after shrugging off challenging conditions to increase its 2011 underlying profit by 13 per cent.

DuluxGroup shares were up six cents at $2.75.

Rural services and trading company Elders posted a $395.4 million annual loss but forecast an improved performance for the current fiscal year.

Its shares were down 1.5 cents at 24 cents.

Orica shares were down 73 cents, or 2.84 per cent, at $24.97 as details of ammonia leaks from its Kooragang Island plant in Newcastle become the subject of community and political concern.

The Kooragang Island plant has been shut since Wednesday last week.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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