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PRECIOUS-Gold at 2-wk high as dollar weakens, trade war fears loom

March 23 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose to a two-week high early Friday on a softer dollar as investors scurried to safety after U.S. President Donald Trump took a step towards long-promised anti-China tariffs, stoking fears of a global trade war.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Spot gold climbed 0.7 percent to $1,337.16 per ounce at 0104 GMT. Prices touched their highest since March 7 at $1,338.99 and were on track for their best weekly performance since the week of Feb. 16.

* U.S. gold futures for April delivery rose 0.7 percent to $1,337.10 per ounce.

* Against a basket of currencies, the dollar index was down 0.3 percent at 89.632. 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.

* A presidential memorandum signed by Trump will target up to $60 billion in Chinese goods with tariffs over what his administration says is misappropriation of U.S. intellectual property, but only after a 30-day consultation period that starts once a list is published.

* China unveiled plans on Friday to impose tariffs on up to $3 billion of U.S. imports in retaliation against U.S. tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminum products, as the world's two largest economies stood on the brink of a trade war.

* China blamed U.S. export restrictions for its record trade surplus with the United States, but expressed hope that a solution can be found to settle trade issues between the world's two biggest economies as U.S. tariffs loom.

* European Union leaders gave a cautious welcome on Thursday to news that Trump had decided not to apply tariffs to European steel and aluminium but said they were waiting for Washington to confirm that decision.

* The Bank of England kept rates steady on Thursday but two of its policymakers unexpectedly voted for an immediate rate rise, in a statement that will boost investors' confidence that borrowing costs will rise in May.

* The number of Americans filing for unemployment benefits rose just marginally last week, suggesting strong job growth in March that should underpin consumer spending.

* A Cypriot investor signed a $4.2 billion deal on Thursday to develop a platinum mine and refinery in Zimbabwe, an investment that President Emmerson Mnangagwa said showed the country was "open for business".

DATA AHEAD (IN GMT)

1230 U.S. Durable Goods Feb 1230 U.S. Durable Ex-Defence MM Feb 1430 U.S. ECRI Weekly Annualized w/e 1400 U.S. New Home sales change MM Feb 1230 U.S. Nondefe Cap Ex-Air Feb

(Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin)