S.Korean stocks edge up on hopes of a bigger U.S. stimulus bill

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

    SEOUL, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Round-up of South Korean financial
** South Korean shares rose on Wednesday as hopes of a larger
U.S. stimulus package outweighed concerns around a new virus
variant. The Korean won weakened and the benchmark bond yield
** By 0157 GMT, the benchmark KOSPI         rose 7.22 points, or
0.26%, to 2,740.90.
** Foreigners were net buyers of 5.0 billion won worth of shares
on the main board.
** It's a choppy trading day ahead of the festive season and
markets are focused on whether the U.S. stimulus package will
grow bigger after U.S. President Donald Trump sought to raise
the amount of the support payment, Bookook Securities' analyst
Lee Won said. 
** Trump said he wants Congress to amend the coronavirus relief
bill to raise the amount of stimulus checks and eliminate
wasteful spending.             

** Meanwhile, South Korea reported 1,092 new cases of COVID-19,
the second highest since the start of the pandemic, while
several nations shut their borders to Britain after a new strain
of the virus was discovered there.                           
** The won was quoted at 1,108.9 per dollar on the onshore
settlement platform           , down 0.14%.
** In offshore trading, the won        was quoted at 1,108.6 per
dollar, up 0.1% from the previous day, while in non-deliverable
forward trading its one-month contract               was quoted
at 1,107.3.
** MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan
                was down 1.05%.
** The KOSPI has risen 24.72% so far this year, and gained 11.5%
in the previous 30 trading sessions.
** The trading volume was 483.90 million shares. Of the total
traded issues of 908, the number of advancing shares was 313.
** The most liquid 3-year Korean treasury bond yield fell by 0.8
basis point to 0.937%, while the benchmark 10-year yield fell by
0.7 basis point to 1.650%.

 (Reporting by Cynthia Kim; editing by Uttaresh.V)