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Australia shares boosted by banks and miners, energy stocks weigh

* 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 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% 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 operator.

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%, respectively.

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%, respectively. ($1 = 1.2947 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Sameer Manekar in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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