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Aust stocks close firmer after Greek deal

The Australian share market has closed firmer as a Greek debt deal and stronger full-year profit guidance from vaccine maker CSL injected confidence.

At 1615 AEDT on Tuesday, the benchmark S&P/ASX200 index edged up 32.6 points, or 0.74 per cent, to 4,456.8 points, while the broader All Ordinaries index had firmed 29.9 points, or 0.67 per cent, to 4,473.4 points.

On the ASX 24, the December share price index futures contract was 40 points higher at 4,472 points, with 19,962 contracts traded, preliminary calculations say.

The Australian market continued its positive run in early afternoon trade after eurozone finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund agreed to release 43.7 billion euros ($A54.63 billion) in loans to Greece.

European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said the deal, including debt relief for decades to come, would "certainly reduce the uncertainty and strengthen confidence in Europe and in Greece".

Bell Direct equities analyst Julia Lee said the news helped buoy the Australian share market, along with trade in South Korea and the US futures market.

"It's been a positive for the market," she told AAP.

But the Australian market underperformed key Asian markets as the Shanghai Composite Index fell below the 2000-point mark, reviving concerns about a slowdown in Chinese growth.

"That takes the Chinese market to levels not seen since the global financial crisis," Ms Lee said.

CSL's upgrading of its profit guidance for this financial year saw shares in the blood products and vaccine maker rise above $50 for the first time.

Ms Lee said CSL's stronger performance added six points to the Australian indices, as defensive health care stocks grew by four per cent on Tuesday.

"Investors have been liking companies that have been growing their earnings and health care have been growing their earnings," Ms Lee said.

CSL shares closed up $3.23 to $50.01, after the company forecast profit after tax in the 2012/13 financial year growing by about 20 per cent, up from $US1.02 billion in 2011/12.

In August, CSL forecast profit growth of about 12 per cent.

Retail shares, however, were under pressure even though Harvey Norman chairman Gerry Harvey told reporters he expected Christmas sales to be stronger in 2012.

Following its annual general meeting, Harvey Norman shares shed two cents to touch $1.82 but Ms Bell said investors were squaring profits after a strong week for retail stocks.

Among the major banks, Commonwealth Bank added seven cents to $59.22, ANZ gained 24 cents to $23.81, National Australia Bank advanced 13 cents to $23.83 and Westpac put on 13 cents at $24.89.

In the resources sector, global miner BHP Billiton was 19 cents richer at $34.20 and Rio Tinto found 57 cents at $57.78.

Preliminary national turnover was 1.416 billion securities worth $3.609 billion, with 484 stocks up, 442 down and 360 unchanged.

On Wall Street on Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 42.31 points, or 0.33 per cent, to 12,967.37 points.