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Australia shares end higher on commodity boost, economic rebound bets

* Nearmap sees best day in 2-1/2 years

* Bendigo and Adelaide Bank notches best day in over 12 years

* NZ hits three-month closing low on lockdown woes (Updates to close)

Feb 15 (Reuters) - Australian shares ended firmer on Monday as a surge in commodity prices lifted mining and energy stocks, while strong corporate earnings and hopes of a global economic rebound in the wake of coronavirus vaccine rollouts also boosted sentiment.

The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.91% to 6868.9 at the close of trade.

Miners closed 1.91% higher, with copper prices at their peak in more than eight years. Global miner Rio Tinto Ltd gained 1.8% while rival BHP Ltd advanced 2.3%.

Energy stocks also gained as oil prices hit their highest in more than a year amid fears of heightened tensions in the Middle East.

Nearmap saw its best session since July 10, 2018, after the aerial mapping firm rejected a short-seller report claiming it had misled markets about its growth in the United States, and reported narrower half-year losses from a year ago.

Electronics retailer JB Hi-Fi jumped to see its best day in a month after posting an 86% surge in first-half profit, driven by online sales, while Bendigo and Adelaide Bank Ltd gained 11.3% on logging a 67% climb in half-year profit.

Investors also kept an eye on fresh COVID-19 cases at home after Victoria went into a five-day lockdown last week following the emergence of a fresh COVID-19 cluster in Melbourne.

“Since we have not seen a massive jump in (COVID-19) case numbers in Victoria, there is some optimism that the lockdown will be lifted soon,” said Henry Jennings, senior analyst at Marcustoday Financial Newsletter.

New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index slipped 0.63% to finish the session down at 12,510.56 points, its lowest in nearly three months.

The country’s travel and leisure stocks posted losses after the country’s largest city Auckland announced a three-day lockdown on Sunday, following the emergence of three COVID-19 cases. (Reporting by Harish Sridharan in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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