Australia shares set to open lower as COVID-19 cases rise, NZ closed

    Jan 4 (Reuters) - Australian shares were set to open lower
on Monday, the first trading day of the year, on fears of fresh
coronavirus-induced restrictions as cases continued to climb in
the country. 
    The most-populous state of New South Wales reported eight
new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, while Victoria's tally increased
by three, as both states implemented measures like mandatory
wearing of masks to slow the virus's spread.             
    The local stock index futures          was down 1.2%, a
51.1-point discount to the underlying S&P/ASX 200 index's
        previous close. 
    The benchmark last closed 1.4% lower on Thursday before a
public holiday on Friday.
    Neighbouring New Zealand's bourse was closed for a public
holiday on Monday.

 (Reporting by Soumyajit Saha in Bengaluru; Editing by Susan