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S.Korea shares hover near 2-year high on upbeat China data

* KOSPI rises, foreigners net buyers

* Korean won strengthens against U.S. dollar

* South Korea benchmark bond yield falls

SEOUL, Sept 16 (Reuters) - Round-up of South Korean financial markets: ** South Korean shares on Wednesday hovered near a two-year high touched in the previous session, buoyed by upbeat Chinese data and prospects of a COVID-19 vaccine. The Korean won strengthened, while the benchmark bond yield fell. ** By 0229 GMT, the benchmark KOSPI rose 5.96 points, or 0.24%, to 2,449.54. In the previous session, the index climbed 0.65% to their highest close since June 12, 2018. ** Aiding sentiment was China data that showed industrial output had accelerated the most in eight months in August, while retail sales in the world’s second-largest economy grew for the first time this year.

** Following robust data from China, investors are also focusing on the U.S. Federal Reserve policy statement due Wednesday, the first since Chair Jerome Powell announced an increased tolerance for higher inflation. ** Any upbeat view on the economy could further boost stocks, said Choi Yoo-june, an analyst at Shinhan Investment & Securities.

** South Korea said on Tuesday it plans to spend $146 million to procure COVID-19 vaccines, initially aiming to secure a supply for 30 million people, or 60% of its population, as it battles persistent outbreaks of new cases.

** Foreigners were net buyers of 37.5 billion won worth of shares on the main board. ** The won was quoted at 1,178.1 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.08% higher than its previous close at 1,179.0. ** MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.65%. ** The KOSPI rose 11.46% so far this year, and gained 8.6% in the previous 30 trading sessions. ** The trading volume during the session in the KOSPI index was 384.46 million shares. Of the total traded issues of 902, the number of advancing shares was 396. ** The most liquid 3-year Korean treasury bond yield rose by 0.5 basis points to 0.912%, while the benchmark 10-year yield fell by 0.6 basis points to 1.498%. (Reporting by Cynthia Kim, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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