* Aussie cenbank holds rates at record low, as expected
* Quarantine-free travel bubble between Australia and NZ announced
* Tech stocks close at near six-week high (Updates to close)
By Arundhati Dutta
April 6 (Reuters) – Australia shares ended higher on Tuesday, bolstered by travel stocks after the announcement of a travel bubble between the country and New Zealand, while tech heavyweights jumped to their highest in a month tracking Wall Street’s strong finish.
The S&P/ASX 200 index ended 0.8% firmer at 6,885.90 points, its highest close since Feb. 18. The index shaved a few points off its midday peak of 6,915.700 points by the close of trading.
Australia’s central bank left interest rates at an all-time low, as expected, and signalled that the cash rate would remain at 0.1% until at least 2024.
“We’re not really seeing too much from the RBA that’s giving us anything new,” Nick Twidale, chief executive officer of APAC at FP Markets said.
“It’s sort of deflating for the market as Australia’s coming out of the pandemic quite well, but if you’ve got the central bank then saying they’re not finding a reason to make any moves for another three years – it’s a bit of a knock.”
Cleanaway Waste Management rose nearly 16% and was the top gainer in the benchmark index, after the company said it would buy the local recycling and recovery business of French firm Suez for A$2.52 billion ($1.93 billion).
Travel stocks jumped, after New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said quarantine-free visits by Australians to New Zealand would be allowed from April 19. Qantas Airways added 3%.
Tech stocks rose more than 5% to finish at their highest level since Feb. 25, with Afterpay leading gains on a 10% rise.
Gold stocks climbed 3.1% as bullion prices rose, with heavyweight Newcrest Mining adding 2%.
New Zealand’s benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index closed 0.7% lower at 12,400.48. However, Air New Zealand jumped 5.8% after the company said it would ramp up flights between New Zealand and Australia.
($1 = 1.3075 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Arundhati Dutta in Bengaluru, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)