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Australian shares retreat on rising cases, stimulus worries

* ASX benchmark hits lowest level since Aug. 10

* Gold stocks drop to near 2-month low

* NZ bourse crashes for fourth day after cyberattacks

Aug 28 (Reuters) - Australian shares declined on Friday, weighed down by gold and technology stocks, as a steady rise in COVID-19 cases in the state of Victoria and an impasse over the coronavirus stimulus bill in the U.S. unnerved investors.

Markets were jittery after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said that Democrats and Republicans continue to have differences over how much to spend on the next relief legislation.

Overnight, indexes on Wall Street lost strength after Pelosi’s comments but ended higher on the back of Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s aggressive new strategy to achieve inflation averaging 2% over time.

The S&P/ASX 200 index fell 1.1% to 6,056.3 by 0130 GMT, as Victoria, the epicentre of the country’s latest COVID-19 outbreak reported 113 new cases in the past 24 hours, unchanged from the previous day.

The index was set to drop 0.7% for week in its second consecutive weekly decline.

The gold index fell as much as 3.5% to a near two-month low after bullion prices slumped overnight as U.S. Treasury yields gained on the Fed’s new inflation shift.

Top miner Newcrest Mining fell 3.5%, while OceanaGold Corp dropped 6.3%.

Heavyweight mining stocks fell more than 2%, dragged down by gold miners.

Tech stocks skid 3.1%, tracking Wall Street’s tech heavy Nasdaq Composite, which ended in the red overnight.

Financials bucked the trend, adding 0.3% as the “big four” banks held their ground.

Elsewhere, Australia’s No. 2 electronics retailer Harvey Norman Holdings climbed 4.2% as coronavirus-driven sales in the second half boosted profit.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index eased 0.3% to 12,013.7 after five straight day of gains. For the week, the index rose 1.5%.

Trading in the New Zealand stock exchange was halted for most of the session and started traded only at 0100 GMT as the bourse crashed for a fourth day, due to network connectivity issues relating to two cyberattacks this week. (Reporting by A K Pranav in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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