* KOSPI nearly flat, foreigners net buyers
* Korean won strengthens versus U.S. dollar
* South Korea benchmark bond yield rises
* For the midday report, please click
SEOUL, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Round-up of South Korean financial markets:
** South Korean shares ended almost flat on Friday after hitting a 15-month high in morning trade, as investors awaited fresh cues following a recent rally driven by trade optimism. The Korean won and the benchmark bond yield rose.
** The Seoul stock market’s KOSPI ended up 2.52 points, or 0.11%, at 2,250.57. The benchmark index rose as much as 0.92% in early trade, notching its highest level since Oct. 8, 2018.
** The index jumped 2% from a week ago, marking its second straight weekly gain.
** On a monthly basis, the main index is on track for its fifth consecutive monthly gain, said Huh Jae-hwan, an analyst at Eugene Investment. The Bank of Korea’s widely-expected decision to keep the rates unchanged didn’t have a considerable impact, he added.
** South Korea’s central bank kept its benchmark rate steady and struck an upbeat tone, citing signs of an improving trade environment and a resilient domestic backdrop that suggested policymakers are in no rush to lower borrowing costs again.
** Foreigners were net buyers of 94.7 billion won ($81.87 million) worth of shares on the main board.
** The won was quoted at 1,159.4 per dollar on the onshore settlement platform, 0.15% higher than its previous close at 1,161.1. For the week, the currency gained 0.2%.
** In offshore trading, the won was quoted at 1,159.1 per U.S. dollar, up 0.1% from the previous day, while in non-deliverable forward trading its one-month contract was quoted at 1,157.7 per dollar.
** MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.15%, after U.S. stocks firmed overnight . Japanese stocks rose 0.45%.
** The KOSPI has risen 2.41% so far this year, and gained 7.5% in the previous 30 trading sessions.
** The trading volume during the session in the KOSPI index was 568.67 million shares and, of the total traded issues of 906, advancing shares were 354.
** The won has lost 0.3% against the dollar so far this year.
** In money and debt markets, March futures on three-year treasury bonds was unchanged at 110.30, while the 3-month Certificate of Deposit rate was quoted at 1.46% in late afternoon trade.
** The most liquid 3-year Korean treasury bond yield rose by 1.1 basis points to 1.437% in late afternoon trade, while the benchmark 10-year yield rose by 4.5 basis points to 1.745%.
$1 = 1,156.6500 won Reporting by Hayoung Choi; Editing by Shailesh Kuber