* Tech stocks up for 4th session
* Travel stocks extend gains after "travel bubble"
* Gold, energy sectors lift benchmark
April 7 (Reuters) - Australian shares on Wednesday closed at
their highest in over a year, extending gains for the fourth
straight session, helped by the country's energy and gold
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.61% to 6,928.0 at the
close of trade, its highest close since Feb. 24 last year.
"What's really at play right now is to get a handle on which
direction we're going with rates and expectations for
inflation," said Brad Smoling, managing director at Smoling
On Tuesday, the country's central bank left lending rates
unchanged at an all time-low, and promised to remain
accommodative for as long as it took to push inflation within
its 2% to 3% target range.
"The Australian exchange is really sort of spinning its
wheels, there's no direction to take a lead from at this stage,"
Gold stocks extended gains for a third session and
closed up 2.3%, as bullion prices rose overnight, though prices
dipped on Wednesday as strong U.S. data sparked economic
Index heavyweight Newcrest Mining Ltd rose 1.1% and
ended higher for a third session.
Energy stocks closed up 1.4%, tracking an uptick in
oil prices on the prospects of stronger global economic growth
amid increased COVID-19 vaccinations.
Woodside Petroleum Ltd and Santos Ltd rose
1.2% and 1.9%, respectively.
Tech stocks continued their winning streak for a
fourth session, with Afterpay Ltd adding 1.9%.
Travel stocks extended gains following the announcement of
quaratine-free "travel bubble" between Australia and New Zealand
on Tuesday. Qantas Airways Ltd climbed 2.6%, while
Flight Centre Travel Group Ltd added 1.2%.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.7%
to finish the session at 12,487.59.
(Reporting by Arundhati Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak