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SYDNEY, Nov 26 AAP

November 26 2012, 10:48AM

Australian stocks are firmer, with gains among metals companies leading the broader market higher.

But, local stocks have underperformed compared with Wall Street, which finished last week more than a per cent higher, with investors nervously eying a possible early election.

At 1025 AEDT, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 11.8 points, or 0.27 per cent, at 4,424.8 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index had risen 12.3 points, or 0.28 per cent, to 4,443.8 points.

On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was 18 points higher at 4,438 points, with 4,688 contracts traded.

Bell Potter senior adviser Stuart Smith said talk of an early election had kept the local market subdued in early trade.

"The screen is full of perhaps an early election in March," Mr Smith said.

Fairfax Media over the weekend reported that federal public servants were told to bring work forward and clear backlogs in readiness for a possible poll in early 2013.

Gold stocks were the market's best-performing sector at the open, rising 1.54 per cent, according to IRESS data.

The metals and minerals (up 0.8 per cent) and materials (0.65 per cent) sectors also opened on an upbeat note.

In percentage terms, gold miner Newcrest was the best-performing stock on the S&P/ASX20, up 2.01 per cent, or 51 cents, at $25.86.

Making news on Monday, Bendigo and Adelaide Bank said it would buy the majority of assets of regional financial company Southern Finance Group for $290 million.

The stock was up six cents at $7.88.

The spot price of gold in Sydney was $US1,750.60 per fine ounce, up $US20.05 from Friday's local close of $US1,730.55 per ounce.

National turnover was 221.5 million securities worth $256.4 million, with 365 stocks up, 203 down and 261 unchanged.