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Bourse gives up gains as investors take cautious view

THE market edged higher yesterday as investors remained cautious despite changes of leadership in Italy and Greece.

THE market edged higher yesterday as investors remained cautious despite changes of leadership in Italy and Greece.

The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 8.1 points at 4304.6, while the broader All Ordinaries rose 10.5 points to 4369.1. The December share price index futures contract was 17 points higher at 4326.

The market opened strongly and was up as much as 1.5 per cent before falling away. The IG Markets analyst Chris Weston said caution had taken hold 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.

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.

Resources stocks were mixed. BHP Billiton was down 30? at $37.50 and Rio Tinto down 77? at $68.62. Fortescue Metals rose 5? to $4.87. Steelmaker BlueScope Steel rose 1.5? to 78.5?.

Uranium miner Paladin Energy posted an increased loss for the September quarter after booking an impairment charge for its Kayelekera mine in Malawi. The share price rose 12? to $1.61.

Among the banks, ANZ fell 4? to $20.66, Commonwealth Bank rose 27? to $49.86, Westpac rose 1? to $21.05 and National Australia Bank fell 2? to $24.56.

Qantas shares rose 3? to $1.64 after its chief executive, Alan Joyce, said he was hopeful the airline would reach contract agreements with workers by next Monday's deadline.

The fertiliser and explosives maker Incitec Pivot fell 5? to $3.47 even though it lifted annual profit by 13 per cent and said 2012 would be a transitional year for its Asia-Pacific explosives business.

The paints maker Dulux predicted a more profitable 2012 after shrugging off challenging conditions to increase underlying profit by 13 per cent. The company's shares rose 6? to $2.75. The 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 fell 1.5? to 24?.

Orica shares fell 73? to $24.97 as details of ammonia leaks from its Kooragang Island plant in Newcastle became the subject of political and public concern. The plant has been shut since last Wednesday.

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