S.Korea shares start 2021 at record high on chip, EV boost

* KOSPI rises, foreigners net buyers

* Korean won strengthens against U.S. dollar

* South Korea benchmark bond yield rises

* For the midday report, please click

SEOUL, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Round-up of South Korean financial markets:

** South Korean shares ended at a record high on the first trading day in 2021, with the sharpest gain in over six months, as hopes for a swifter economic recovery boosted sentiment. The won hit its strongest level since mid-June 2018, and the benchmark bond yield rose.

** The KOSPI closed up 70.98 points, or 2.47%, to 2,944.45, logging the sharpest daily gain since mid-June and extending gains to a sixth straight session. It ended 2020 up 30.8%.

** South Korea’s exports expanded at their fastest pace in 26 months in December, on robust chip demand and improved global demand, providing additional signals that the recovery is on track despite resurgences in the novel coronavirus.

** Chip giants Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix surged as much as 4.2% and 8% to their record highs.

** Shares of Hyundai Motor Co, the nation’s biggest carmaker, surged to a over 6-year high, while its affiliates also jumped on hopes for electric vehicle (EV) boost.

** EV battery makers LG Chem and SK Innovation shares jumped on bullish outlook for EV battery demand and hopes for its construction of a battery factory in Georgia.

** Foreigners were net buyers of 89.2 billion won ($82.47 million) worth of shares on the main board.

** The won ended at 1,082.1 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.39% stronger than its previous close, after touching a 2-1/2-year high.

** In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,082.1, up 0.2% from the previous day, while in non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract was quoted at 1,081.1.

** The most liquid 3-year Korean treasury bond yield fell by 1.0 basis points to 0.960%. ($1 = 1,081.5800 won) (Reporting by Joori Roh; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)