* Australian benchmark index hits highest since mid-Feb
* Cleanaway top gainer on deal to buy Suez’s local unit
* RBA expected to hold rates at monthly meeting
By Shruti Sonal
April 6 (Reuters) – Australian shares climbed on Tuesday as trading resumed after a long weekend, with market sentiment bolstered by Wall Street’s strong finish overnight, while investors waited for a policy meeting of the country’s central bank due later in the day.
U.S. stocks rallied overnight, with the Dow and the S&P 500 closing at record levels, after a survey showed a measure of services industry activity jumped to a record high in March.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose as much as 1.2% to 6,909, hitting its highest since mid-February, ahead of the Reserve Bank of Australia’s monthly policy meeting where it is widely expected to maintain key rates at a record low of 0.1% and stick to a dovish tone.
Australian and New Zealand markets were closed on Friday and Monday for holidays.
Gains were broad-based in Australia, with nearly all sectors trading in positive territory.
Tech stocks added more than 4% to hit their highest level in over a month. Buy-now-pay-later heavyweight Afterpay Ltd jumped more than 8%, while software firm Xero Ltd gained 3%.
Strength in crude, copper and bullion prices lifted energy , mining and gold stocks, which climbed in a range of 1% to 2%.
Among individual stocks, Cleanaway Waste Management jumped more than 11% to lead gains on the benchmark after it said it would acquire the local recycling and recovery business of French firm Suez for A$2.52 billion ($1.93 billion).
Travel stocks in Australia and New Zealand climbed ahead of a possible announcement regarding a travel bubble between the two countries.
Carriers Air New Zealand and Qantas Airways rose more than 6% and 3%, respectively.
In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index fell 0.3%, with utilities weighing the most. (Reporting by Shruti Sonal in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)