* Travel stocks rise on open-border system between
* Lithium miner Orocobre among top gainers on Galaxy buyout
* Energy stocks slip on weaker oil prices amid surging cases
April 19 (Reuters) - Australian shares closed flat on Monday
as losses among energy and technology sectors erased an early
mining boost, while tourism-related stocks found some respite as
a travel bubble between Australia and New Zealand kicked off.
The S&P/ASX 200 index closed flat at 7,065.6.
Energy stocks slipped 1.4% as oil prices slumped
amid a surge in COVID-19 infections in India and other
countries. Woodside Petroleum fell nearly 2% while
Santos lost 1.3%.
Technology stocks shed 0.8%, with buy-now-pay-later
heavyweight Afterpay losing nearly 1%.
The mining index rose 0.8% as ironore and copper
prices held firm. Rio Tinto gained 1.7% while Fortescue
Metals Group added 1.8%.
Orocobre soared 5.7% after the lithium miner said
it was buying smaller domestic peer Galaxy Resources
for $1.4 billion to create the world's fifth-most valuable
producer of the key raw material for electric vehicle batteries.
Meanwhile, hundreds of passengers from Australia began
arriving in New Zealand airports on Monday, as open-border
system between the countries allows Australia residents to fly
across Tasman Sea without having to quarantine.
Travel stocks edged higher, with Helloworld Travel
advancing 2.4% and Sydney Airport Holdings rising 0.5%.
"The travel industry took a hit last year due to the
pandemic and the ones that survived now started to look of good
value to most people," FP Markets - APAC Chief Executive Officer
Nick Twidale said.
"But for the travel sector to really pick up and be
performing anywhere near like last year, we need the rest of the
world to come out of the pandemic, with better vaccine
rollouts," he added.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index was up 0.7%
at 12,767.83, with Auckland Airport gaining the most
after rising 4.7%.
(Reporting by Vasudha Kaukuntla in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry