[BENGALURU] Australian shares edged higher in subdued trade on Monday, led by banks and miners, while some travel-related stocks advanced as a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand began.
The open-border system between Australia and New Zealand allows Australian residents to fly across the Tasman Sea for the first time in more than a year without having to quarantine for two weeks.
Both Australia and New Zealand have reported relatively fewer Covid-19 cases compared with most countries of the developed world.
Flight Centre Travel Group and Corporate Travel Management advanced as much as 0.7 per cent each, while Helloworld Travel was up nearly a per cent.
Also aiding sentiment were positive corporate earnings and upbeat economic data from the United States that sent major Wall Street indexes to fresh peaks on Friday.
Australia's benchmark S&P/ASX 200 index was up 0.2 per cent to 7,079.00 by 0025 GMT, its highest in 14 months.
Banks climbed more than half a percent, while miners added 0.8 per cent, with heavyweights Rio Tinto and Fortescue Metals gaining 1.7 per cent and 1.3 per cent, respectively.
Lithium miner Orocobre jumped 6 per cent to hit its highest in more than three years after it said it would buy rival Galaxy Resources to form the world's fifth-largest lithium miner company valued at A$4 billion (S$4.12 billion). Galaxy shares climbed 4 per cent to hit their highest since January 2018.
Crown Resorts jumped 0.5 per cent after it received a A$3 billion (S$3.1 billion) offer from US private equity firm Oaktree Capital to buy James Packer's 37 per cent stake in the casino operator.
Capping the benchmark index's gains, energy stocks, fell 1 per cent to their lowest since March 19, with Woodside Petroleum and Oil Search losing 1.3 per cent and 1.8 per cent, respectively.
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index advanced 0.6 per cent to 12,756.84. Auckland International Airport and Air New Zealand add 3.4 per cent and 1.7 per cent, respectively.