* Orocobre, Galaxy merge to form A$4 bln lithium miner
* Crown Resorts jumps on offer to buyout James Packer
* Travel stocks gain on Australia-NZ travel bubble
* Energy stocks fall on weak oil prices
April 19 (Reuters) - 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
Both Australia and New Zealand have reported relatively
fewer COVID-19 cases compared with most countries of the
Flight Centre Travel Group and Corporate Travel
Management advanced as much as 0.7% each, while
Helloworld Travel was up nearly a percent.
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%
to 7,079.00 by 0025 GMT, its highest in 14 months.
Banks climbed more than half a percent, while miners
added 0.8%, with heavyweights Rio Tinto and
Fortescue Metals gaining 1.7% and 1.3%, respectively.
Lithium miner Orocobre jumped 6% 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 ($3.09 billion). Galaxy
shares climbed 4% to hit their highest since January 2018.
Crown Resorts jumped 0.5% after it received a A$3
billion ($2.32 billion) offer from U.S. private equity firm
Oaktree Capital to buy James Packer's 37% stake in the casino
Capping the benchmark index's gains, energy stocks,
fell 1% to their lowest since March 19, with Woodside Petroleum
and Oil Search losing 1.3% and 1.8%,
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index
advanced 0.6% to 12,756.84. Auckland International Airport
and Air New Zealand add 3.4% and 1.7%,
($1 = 1.2947 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by