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Australia shares end higher on strong China data; tech, mining stocks slip

* Travel stocks gain on potential air travel bubble

* Investors await RBA policy meeting minutes on Tuesday

* China posts strong Jan-Feb economic data (Updates to close)

March 15 (Reuters) - Australian shares reversed course to close slightly higher on Monday, as strong economic data from the country’s top trading partner China buoyed sentiment, but weaker technology and mining stocks limited gains.

The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.1% higher at 6,773.00, extending the benchmark’s 0.8% rise on Friday.

Data on Monday showed China’s industrial output grew 35.1% in January-February from a year ago, better than the 30% expected in a Reuters poll.

China’s retail sales, fixed asset investment, refinery throughput and aluminium production for first two months of 2021 also marked strong growth.

Additionally, domestic investors were reassured after central bank governor Philip Lowe said that Australia’s recent recovery was quick and strong, and that the country is doing much better than most other advanced economies.

Investors now await minutes of the central bank’s monetary policy meeting, set to be released on Tuesday.

“What will probably receive attention is any comments about the rising bond yields we’ve had globally, and the markets will be paying attention to see if there’s any reassuring and calming words on potential action,” said Steven Daghlian, market analyst at CommSec.

Gold stocks were top gainers, closing the session 1.2% higher as the sector gained from a cheaper U.S. dollar.

De Grey Mining ended about 6% higher, while Red 5 closed 8.8% up.

The healthcare sector finished above 1%, with industry heavyweight CSL rising 1% and Ansell gaining 2%.

Travel-related stocks soared after Australia and Singapore said they are discussing an air travel bubble that would allow travel between the two countries without the need for quarantine.

Bucking the overall trend, technology stocks tumbled about 2%, tracking weakness in their Wall Street peers on Friday, while miners slipped on lower iron ore prices.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index gained 1.3%to finish the session at 12,592.26. (Reporting by Nikhil Subba in Bengaluru; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

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