S.Korea stocks start year at record high on chip, auto boost

    * KOSPI jumps to record high, foreigners net sellers
    * KRW hits strongest since June 2018 vs USD
    * South Korea benchmark bond yield falls

    SEOUL, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Round-up of South Korean financial
    ** South Korean shares touched a record high as it began
trading in 2021, driven by major heavyweights, as more investors
bet on a swifter economic recovery. The won hit its strongest
level since mid-June 2018, while the benchmark bond yield fell.
    ** The KOSPI         soared 58.72 points, or 2.04%, to
2,932.19 by 0245 GMT, set for a sixth straight gain, after
ending 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 5.9% to their record
    ** Shares of Hyundai Motor Co            , the nation's
biggest carmaker, surged to a near 4-year high, while its
affiliates also jumped on hopes for electric vehicle (EV) boost
this year.             
    ** South Korean battery maker SK Innovation's            
shares soared as much as 15.5% to their highest since October
2018 on bullish outlook for EV battery demand and hopes for its
construction of a battery factory in Georgia.             
    ** Foreigners were net sellers of 35.9 billion won ($33.19
million) worth of shares on the main board. 
    ** The won was quoted at 1,080.7 per dollar on the onshore
settlement platform           , 0.52% higher than its previous
close, and the strongest since June 12, 2018.
    ** In offshore trading, the won        was quoted at 1,081.4
per dollar, up 0.3% from the previous day, while in
non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract
              was quoted at 1,080.5.
    ** In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year
treasury bonds         rose 0.02 points to 111.49.
    ** The most liquid 3-year Korean treasury bond yield rose by
0.2 basis points to 0.972%.

($1 = 1,081.5900 won)

 (Reporting by Joori Roh; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)