Aust share market edges higher
Market watch top headlines
The Australian share market has closed slightly higher as investors await more movement on addressing Greece's debt and the so-called fiscal cliff in the United States.
On Monday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index edged up 11.2 points, or 0.25 per cent, to 4,424.2 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index firmed 12 points, or 0.27 per cent, to 4,443.5 points.
On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was 12 points higher at 4,432 points, with 16,099 contracts traded.
Investors are awaiting the outcome of a meeting of euro zone finance ministers later on Monday aimed at finalising a bailout deal for debt-hit Greece.
Investors are also focused on whether US President Barack Obama can negotiate a deal with Congress to avoid automatic tax increases and spending cuts - the fiscal cliff - at the start of next year.
OptionsXpress market analyst Ben Le Brun said the market had managed on Friday to hang on to some small gains but had performed disappointingly given the stronger lead from US markets on Friday.
"The market is just crunching gears at the moment," he said.
"We've got the European ministers' meeting tonight. We've got an important economic data week in front of us in the US and here locally."
Mr Le Brun said the fiscal cliff in the US was of concern to investors but they believed that there would be a resolution.
If the Greek debt issue could finally be put to bed later tonight, investors may regain some confidence to drive markets higher, he said.
Among the major banks, National Australia Bank improved seven cents to $23.70, ANZ eased three cents to $23.57, Commonwealth Bank advanced 20 cents to $59.15 and Westpac dumped 18 cents at $24.76.
Bendigo and Adelaide Bank gained eight cents at $7.90 after announcing it would buy the majority of assets of regional finance company Southern Finance Group for $290 million.
In the resources sector, global miner BHP Billiton was 26 cents richer at $34.01 and Rio Tinto found three cents at $57.21.
Among other stocks, Melbourne IT plunged 19 cents, or 10.92 per cent, to $1.55, after the company warned of lower earnings in calendar 2012, delays on its transformation plans and flagged the sale of some assets.
Retirement funder Challenger picked up three cents to $3.22 as it reiterated its financial targets and said the performance of its investments had improved.
New listing Shopping Centres Australasia Property Group, a real estate investment trust created by Woolworths, finished its first day of trading at $1.44, four cents above the issue price of $1.40 per unit.
The price of gold in Sydney was $US1,750.15 per fine ounce, up $US19.60 on Friday's closing price of $US1,730.55.
National turnover was 1.35 billion securities worth $2.83 billion, with 485 stocks up, 471 down and 358 unchanged.
On Wall Street last Friday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 172.79 points, or 1.35 per cent, to 13,009.7 points.