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Australia shares rise on easing virus worries, Coca-Cola Amatil deal

* Victoria state reports zero new cases in 24 hours

* Coca-Cola Amatil stock top gainer on benchmark

* Westpac drags financial stocks

* NZ markets closed for a holiday

Oct 26 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Monday as COVID-19 hotspot Victoria reported zero new cases for the first time in four months and Coca-Cola Amatil received a $6.6 billion buyout bid.

Gains in healthcare and tech stocks helped the S&P/ASX 200 index firm 0.4% to 6,190.10 by 0049 GMT.

Victoria state has now gone 24 hours without detecting any new COVID-19 cases, a milestone last achieved four months ago, raising hopes that a stringent lockdown of Melbourne will be eased.

The state’s Premier Daniel Andrews on Sunday had delayed the reopening of the city which went under a lockdown in July, even as businesses argued for the need to reopen the economy.

Meanwhile, Coca-Cola Amatil Ltd surged 16% to see its best day in over a decade and top the benchmark after Coca-Cola European Partners offered to buy the Australian bottler, in what would be the country’s biggest deal this year.

Coca-Cola’s jump also pushed consumer stocks 2% higher. The index marked its best session in nearly three weeks.

Aiding sentiment were signs of U.S. stimulus talks gathering momentum after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi reiterated the need for a round of aid as soon as possible and said the President Donald Trump’s administration was reviewing the latest plans.

Among other individual shares and sectors, the tech index rose 2.1%. Software maker WiseTech Global Ltd, jumped 3.3% and Bravura Solutions Ltd added 2.8%.

Healthcare stocks gained 1.1%, benefiting from firmness in the greenback as the United States is a top export destination for the companies.

Biotech major CSL Ltd jumped 1.6%, rising the most on the sub-index.

The heavyweight financial index slipped, with Westpac Banking Corp shares falling 0.9% after it revealed it would book a $870.4 million hit in second-half results.

Markets in New Zealand were closed for a holiday. (Reporting by Anushka Trivedi in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)

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