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PRECIOUS-Gold shines as trade war fears rattle markets

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

* China targets $3 bln of U.S. imports

* Gold up about 2 pct so far for the week

(Adds comments, updates prices) March 23 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose early Friday on a faltering dollar and equities as investors scurried to safety after U.S. President Donald Trump moved towards long-promised anti-China tariffs, prompting a response from China amid fears of a global trade war. On Thursday Trump signed a presidential memorandum that could impose tariffs on up to $60 billion of imports from China, but only after a 30-day consultation period that starts once a list is published. China urged the United States to "pull back from the brink", while the Chinese commerce ministry unveiled plans to levy additional duties on up to $3 billion of U.S. imports in response to the steel and aluminium tariffs.

Spot gold climbed 0.7 percent to $1,338.26 per ounce

at 0251 GMT. Prices touched their highest since March 7 at $1,338.99 earlier in the session and were on track for their best weekly performance since the week of Feb. 16, rising nearly 2 percent.

U.S. gold futures for April delivery rose 0.8

percent to $1,338.30 per ounce. "A trade war will harm both the U.S. and Chinese economies... And any harm to the U.S. economy will depreciate the dollar pushing gold higher," said Ji Ming, chief analyst, Shandong Gold Group.

Against a basket of currencies, the dollar index was

down 0.3 percent at 89.612. 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. Investor appetite for a safe-haven asset such as gold rises during times of geopolitical and financial uncertainties and a weaker greenback makes the dollar-priced bullion less expensive for purchasers with other currencies. "In the medium-term and short-term, I think gold will go higher, maybe to 1,350-1,380 levels," said Peter Fung, head of dealing at Wing Fung Precious Metals in Hong Kong. Stock markets slid on Friday and perceived safe havens such as government bonds and the yen gained. Meanwhile, EU leaders were awaiting for the final word from Trump on whether the U.S. would apply tariffs to European steel and aluminium, said German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and warned of a firm response if he did. "We opine that retaliatory tariffs will potentially create further more uncertainty over how global growth and trade may pan out into 2018, and could drag risk appetite further," said analysts at OCBC Bank.

Among other precious metals, silver gained 1 percent to $16.52 per ounce, while platinum was up 0.7 percent to

$953.40 per ounce.

Palladium rose 0.6 percent to $985.75 per ounce.

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