Australian shares hit record high on Afterpay boost; NZ rises



* Afterpay soars 29% on buyout deal, leads gains on ASX 200

* Oil Search jumps 8.7%, Santos up 3.6%

* Tech stocks set for their best session since November 2011

Aug 2 (Reuters) - Australian shares touched a record high on Monday as Afterpay Ltd APT.AX jumped after U.S.-based Square Inc SQ.N agreed to buy the buy now, pay later firm for $29 billion, with the tech index being on track for its best day in nearly a decade.

The S&P/ASX 200 index .AXJO rose as much as 1.3% to 7,488.4 points. It was up 1.27% at 7,486.7 by 0118 GMT.

The benchmark index was helped by a 9% jump in tech stocks .AXIJ , setting them for their best session since November 2011.

Leading the gains on both the tech sub-index and ASX 200, Afterpay APT.AX surged up to 29.3% to A$125 — its best day since May 2020 — as investors cheered Square's buyout of the company.

That lifted other BNPL firms Zip Co Z1P.AX , up as much as 13.7% and the second-biggest gainer, and Sezzle SEZNL.PK that climbed up to 6.5%.

Energy firm Oil Search OSH.AX intended to recommend a sweetened buyout offer worth A$8.4 ($6.2 billion) from Australia's second-largest independent gas producer Santos Ltd STO.AX .

Oil Search was among the top gainers on the benchmark index, surging 8.7% to A$4.14 and lifting the energy index .AXEJ by 2.1%. Oil Search and Santos were its top two gainers.

The mining index .AXMM , however, was an outlier as it lost 0.6% on weak metal prices.

BHP Group BHP.AX , Rio Tinto RIO.AX , and Fortescue Metals FMG.AX were all down between 3.4% and 1.1%.

Financial stocks .AXFJ rose 1.% led by Zip Co Ltd Z1P.AX , up 7.98%, followed by Magellan Financial Group Ltd MFG.AX , gaining 2.54%.

The ASX All Ordinaries Gold index .AXGD rose 2.5%, led by Ora Banda Mining Ltd OBM.AX , up 7.41%, followed by Ramelius Resources Ltd RMS.AX , gaining 6.16​%.

In New Zealand, the benchmark S&P/NZX 50 index .NZ50 rose 0.5% to 12,651.1.

($1 = 1.3609 Australian dollars)
Reporting by Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V

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