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S.Korean shares fall as virus worries overshadow U.S. stimulus hopes

    * KOSPI falls, foreigners net sellers
    * Korean won strengthens against U.S. dollar
    * South Korea benchmark bond yield rises

    SEOUL, Dec 17 (Reuters) - Round-up of South Korean financial
markets:
    
    ** South Korean shares fell on Thursday as the country's
daily virus infections touched near their highest level since
pandemic began, outweighing optimism around central banks'
policy support and hopes of a U.S. stimulus package. 
    
    ** The Korean won strengthened, while the benchmark bond
yield rose.
    
    ** South Korea reported 1,014 new cases of COVID-19 as of
Wednesday midnight, a day after marking the biggest daily
increase of 1,078 new cases.
    
    ** By 0132 GMT, the benchmark KOSPI         fell 15.89
points, or 0.57%, to 2,755.90.
    
    ** Local coronavirus wave is weighing on investor sentiment,
while the U.S. Federal Reserve's meeting result came in just as
expected, said Shin Joong-ho, an analyst at eBest Investment &
Securities.
    
    ** The Fed said it would stick with its policy of low
interest rates, while legislators moved closer to agreeing on an
additional $900 billion of COVID-19 aid, including $600 to $700
stimulus checks and extended unemployment benefits.             
    
    ** South Korea's central bank said it has agreed to renew an
existing currency swap agreement with the Fed by another six
months to at least Sept. 30, 2021.             
    
    ** Foreigners were net sellers of 204.0 billion won ($186.69
million) worth of shares on the main board. 
    
    ** The won was quoted at 1,092.6 per dollar on the onshore
settlement platform           , up 0.13%.
    
    ** In offshore trading, the won        was quoted at 1,092.5
per dollar, while in non-deliverable forward trading, its
one-month contract               was quoted at 1,091.7.
    
    ** In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year
treasury bonds         fell 0.02 points to 111.43.
    
    ** The most liquid 3-year Korean treasury bond yield rose by
0.6 basis point to 0.994%, while the benchmark 10-year yield
rose by 3.3 basis points to 1.719%.

($1 = 1,092.7400 won)

 (Reporting by Jihoon Lee; editing by Uttaresh.V)
  
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