S.Korean stocks end at 2-1/2-year high on vaccine hopes, strong exports data

* KOSPI closes at highest since May 3, 2018

* Foreigners net buyers for fifth straight day

* KRW closes at strongest level vs USD since Dec 4, 2018

* South Korean benchmark bond yield rises

* For the midday report, please click

SEOUL, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Round-up of South Korean financial markets:

** South Korean shares closed at their highest level in more than two-and-a-half years on Wednesday, extending their rally for an eighth straight session, following upbeat trade data and hopes of a successful coronavirus vaccine.

** The Korean won closed at its strongest level since early December 2018 and the benchmark bond yield rose.

** The benchmark KOSPI ended up 32.74 points, or 1.33%, at 2,485.57, its highest since May 3, 2018.

** “Foreign investors were seen purchasing market heavyweights including Samsung Electronics on weak dollar ... Investors will focus on the progress in vaccine development and U.S. President-elect Biden’s policies,” said Hana Financial Investment analyst Lee Young-gon.

** Chip giant Samsung Electronics and biopharmaceutical firm Celltrion led the gains on the benchmark, rising 1.8% and 7.2% each.

** Foreigners gobbled up net 836.4 billion won ($753.97 million) worth of shares on the main board, after purchasing around net 2.5 trillion won in the past four sessions, Korea Exchange data showed.

** South Korea’s exports for the first 10 days of November surged 20.1% on strong chip sales and solid demand from major trading partners, data showed on Wednesday.

** Meanwhile, the nation’s unemployment rate climbed to a three-month high in October, while the number of employed fell at the fastest pace in six months, as the resurgence in the COVID-19 cases added pressure on businesses.

** The won ended at 1,110.0 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, up 0.46% and marking the strongest close since Dec. 4, 2018.

** In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,109.1, while in non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract was quoted at 1,109.4.

** The most liquid 3-year Korean treasury bond yield rose by 2.0 basis points to 0.993%. ($1 = 1,109.3300 won) (Reporting by Joori Roh; Additional reporting by Jihoon Lee)