* AGL Energy set for worst day in near 12 years
* AMP among the top pct gainers on the Aussie benchmark
* NZ shares rebound after a steep fall in the previous
Aug 13 (Reuters) - Australian shares edged lower on
Thursday, pulled down by losses in heavyweight financial stocks,
even as the country's second-most populous state reported its
lowest single-day rise in new coronavirus infections in more
than three weeks.
The S&P/ASX 200 index was down 0.3% to 6117.8 by
0112 GMT, on track for a second consecutive day of declines.
Financial stocks dominated losses on the local benchmark,
falling nearly 1% with the 'Big Four' banks dropping between
1.4% and 2.7%.
AGL Energy, the country's top power producer,
dropped nearly 9% and was the top percentage laggard to the
benchmark as it warned that its profit could shrink as much as
30% in fiscal 2021.
Victoria state logged eight coronavirus deaths on Thursday,
down from 21 a day earlier with the number of new daily
infections also showing signs of improvement.
Among the gainers, technology stocks tracked their
U.S. peers higher, jumping over 2% with buy-now-pay-later firm
Afterpay adding nearly 2%.
Gold stocks rallied 1.5% after the yellow metal
recovered from its worst fall in seven years.
Newcrest Mining, which is set to report its
full-year results on Friday, advanced nearly 2%, while Evolution
Mining gained 1.9% after reporting a higher annual
Wealth manager AMP Ltd was on course for its best
session since late August 2003 as it sought to return A$544
million ($390.32 million) to shareholders through a special
dividend and buyback.
New Zealand's benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index rose 0.68%
to 11570.36 as of 0121 GMT, set for its best session in over a
week on the back of healthcare stocks.
The Reserve Bank of New Zealand surprised markets on
Wednesday by expanding its bond-buying programme and warned that
policy rates might have to go below zero to revive the
coronavirus-battered economy as the country was plunged back
($1 = 1.3937 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Deepali Saxena; Editing by Rashmi Aich)