Higher finish as investors put Italy poll woes behind them

The sharemarket closed the week higher as investors absorbed news of Italy's deadlocked elections and talk of an over-valued exchange rate.

The sharemarket closed the week higher as investors absorbed news of Italy's deadlocked elections and talk of an over-valued exchange rate.

For the week, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 Index gained 67.7 points, or 1.3 per cent, at 5086.1 points, while the broader All Ordinaries Index rose 64.2 points, or 1.3 per cent, at 5100.9 points.

The market had a volatile ride this week, getting hit early by an unexpected outcome in the Italian election before recovering as US economic data proved better than expected.

"The inconclusive Italian election result with the centre left winning the lower house but not the Senate clearly spooked investors fearful that it would trigger a renewed escalation of the eurozone crisis," the AMP Capital chief economist, Shane Oliver, said. "However, while political uncertainty is the last thing Italy needs right now there is a danger in overreacting."

A CommSec market analyst, Steve Daghlian, said the local bourse managed to close higher for the week as profits season came to a close.

"[It] wasn't great for the miners who have actually lost ground over earnings season," Mr Daghlian said on Friday. "It came after a slight fall on US markets."

But Mr Daghlian said there were still concerns over US fiscal cliff negotiations, and that will be an "important driver" of the market next week.

For the week, Atlas Iron lost 18.5¢, at $1.42, after the miner said it was confident enough about iron ore demand to press on with production growth this year, despite low prices contributing to a heavy full year loss.

AGL Energy rose 69¢, at $15.91, as the company warned that ordinary energy users will pay dearly with higher power bills with new laws locking up coal seam gas reserves.

Beach Energy rose 14¢, at $1.435, after the company trimmed its full year production guidance, just a day after its $349 million shale oil deal with US energy giant Chevron.

Caltex Australia gained $2.30, at $20.54, after the oil company said it would find enough fuel to supply customers despite the looming closure of a refinery adding to worries about Australia's energy security.

James Hardie slipped 5¢, at $9.65, after the building supplies giant said homebuilders were opting for cheaper houses, given weaker economic conditions and problems with affordability. Macmahon Holdings climbed 1¢, at 31¢, after the mining services company said it would post a loss of up to $20 million this financial year because of its troubled construction business.

Harvey Norman gained 28¢, at $2.61. Gerry Harvey said he was banking on a little divine intervention to keep cashed-up shoppers flooding into his stores.

Oil Search gained 38¢, at $7.76, after the company cut back its full year production target after recording a drop in half year profit due to increased exploration activity.

Ramsay Health Care gained $1.21, at $31.62, after the private hospitals and day surgery operator said it wanted to continue its overseas expansion.7

Rio Tinto lost 64¢, at $66.08, after the mining giant appointed the former boss of tollroad owner Transurban, Chris Lynch, as its new chief financial officer.

Seven Group Holdings rose $1.27, at $11.09, after it said it expected to defy a predicted fall in heavy equipment orders and lift its full year earnings by up to 20 per cent.

Westfield Group rose 10¢, at $11.10, after its boss, Peter Lowy, said Australian shoppers may be ready to start splashing their cash again as solid savings rates and low inflation lifts consumer confidence.

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