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Aust shares rise on Obama victory

Australian shares finished higher as US President Barack Obama's second-term victory sparked a late afternoon rally.

The All Ordinaries index jumped 16 points in the last 20 minutes of trade as the election result became known.

At the close on Wednesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index was up 31.7 points, or 0.71 per cent, at 4,516.5, while the broader All Ordinaries index was up 30.5 points, or 0.68 per cent, at 4,534.2.

On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was 29 points higher at 4,502, with 27,147 contracts traded.

CommSec market analyst Juliette Saly said investor caution dominated much of the day's trade until the US presidential election result came in.

"When the networks and Obama himself started calling a victory around 1530 AEDT this afternoon we did see a spike, really due to the fact that we've got a clear resolution to the outcome of the election," Ms Saly said.

She said that traditionally, markets reacted better to the Democrats taking power.

"Having a clear announcement, rather than a hung parliament has really given investors confidence."

In equities news, global media giant News Corporation announced that its net profit more than tripled in the first quarter of the 2012/13 financial year.

News Corp shares closed 74 cents, or 3.1 per cent, higher at $24.10.

News non-voting stock closed up 88 cents, or 3.84 per cent, at $23.79.

Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) lifted its first quarter cash profit to about $1.85 billion despite low demand for loans and higher funding costs, causing CBA shares to rise 32 cents higher to $57.80.

Harvey Norman shares fell four cents to $1.81 after the consumer retailer's profit for the first quarter dived by 20 per cent.

Downer EDI shares soared 5.8 per cent, or 20 cents, to $3.62 after the engineering firm said it was on track to achieve its full-year profit expectations.

Global resources giant BHP Billiton was up 17 cents at $34.98, amid a report the company has started the process to find a new chief executive to replace Marius Kloppers.

Fellow resources company Rio Tinto was 50 cents better at $60.00.

The price of gold in Sydney was $US1723.95, up $US38.07 per fine ounce, from Tuesday's close of $US1685.88

National turnover was at 1.59 billion securities worth $3.96 billion, with 533 stocks up, 387 down and 377 unchanged.