* Victoria reports lowest rise in COVID-19 cases in 2 months
* Woolworths climbs nearly 3% on higher supermarket sales
* NZ benchmark up for fifth straight session
Aug 27 (Reuters) - Australian shares rose on Thursday,
tracking Wall Street's record-setting rally overnight, as
sentiment was lifted by a fall in new COVID-19 cases in the
country's virus hot spot state.
U.S. stocks surged on Wednesday, pushing the S&P 500 to its
fourth straight record closing high, on the back of upbeat
At home, the southeastern state of Victoria recorded 23
deaths from the new coronavirus in the last 24 hours and 113 new
cases, its lowest daily rise in nearly two months, aided by
strict lockdown measures.
The S&P/ASX 200 index rose 0.6% to 6,155.5 points by
0129 GMT. The benchmark ended 0.7% lower on Wednesday.
Gold stocks jumped as much as 4% in their biggest
intraday percentage gain in a month as U.S. gold futures
rose ahead of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell's speech
later in the day.
That helped push heavyweight miners up 1.8%.
Limiting gains on the benchmark index, energy stocks
fell 0.8%, dragged down by Whitehaven Coal after
brokerages turned bearish on the miner following a profit plunge
Australia's biggest buy-now-pay-later company Afterpay Ltd
rose 0.6% after hitting a record high in the session as
the company said its annual loss more than halved.
Shares of Woolworths Group Ltd rose 2.9% after the
country's biggest supermarket chain reported a rise in annual
supermarket sales on coronavirus-led stockpiling.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index edged 0.2%
higher to 12,053.4 and is on track to post its fifth straight
session of gains.
Air New Zealand shares gained 0.4% as the carrier
plans to draw on a NZ$900 million ($596.34 million) government
loan within days to help it weather the pandemic after reporting
its first annual loss in almost two decades.
(Reporting by A K Pranav in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren