×

FOREX-Yen climbs as global trade tensions dent risk appetite

* Dollar hits 16-month low of 104.635 yen in early Asia

* Trump may impose tariffs on up to $60 bln of Chinese goods

* Yen rises broadly on risk aversion

SINGAPORE, March 23 (Reuters) - The yen hit a 16-month high against the dollar on Friday as concerns over rising global trade tensions triggered a bout of investor risk aversion.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum on Thursday that will target up to $60 billion in Chinese goods with tariffs, but only after a 30-day consultation period that starts once a list is published.

While his actions appeared to be more of a warning shot than the start of a full-blown trade war with Beijing, U.S. equities slumped as investors fretted about the potential impact on global trade.

The dollar fell to as low as 104.635 yen in early Asian trade on Friday, the greenback's lowest level since November 2016, as the Japanese currency pushed higher.

The yen is often viewed as a safe haven currency in times of market turbulence and economic uncertainty, partly because of the resilience provided by Japan's current account surplus.

"The yen continues to be the beneficiary of global risk aversion, and even as we melt through the 105 level like a hot knife through butter, there remain very few reasons not to be short USDJPY in this environment," Stephen Innes, head of trading in Asia-Pacific for Oanda in Singapore, wrote in a note.

After paring some of its losses, the dollar was last trading at 104.95 yen, down 0.3 percent from late U.S. trade on Thursday.

MSCI's broadest measure of Asia-Pacific equities outside Japan fell 0.7 percent in early Asian trade.

In the wake of Trump's actions, China's commerce ministry said on Friday that the country was planning measures against up to $3 billion of U.S. imports to balance U.S. tariffs against Chinese steel and aluminum products.

The euro also weakened against the yen, hitting a low of 128.96 yen, the euro's lowest level since August 2017. The euro later regained some footing and was last down 0.2 percent on the day at 129.30 yen.

Against the dollar, the euro rose 0.2 percent to $1.2320 .

The dollar's index against a basket of six major currencies last traded at 89.718. The dollar index has recovered from a one-month low of 89.396 set on Thursday.

Elsewhere, the Hong dollar fell to a new 33-year low on Friday, inching closer to the lower end of the monetary authority's targeted trading band as the interest rate gap between U.S. dollar rates and its Hong Kong counterpart widened further.

In early Friday trade, the Hong Kong dollar fell to a new 33-year of 7.8484 per dollar. (Reporting by Masayuki Kitano; editing by Richard Pullin)