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FOREX-Yen jumps on Trump's tariff threat on Mexico

Richard Leong

* Trump threatens tariffs on Mexico over illegal immigration

* Mexican peso set for worst day since October

* Traders pile on bets on U.S. rate cuts by year-end

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2019

(Updates market action, changes dateline, previous LONDON) NEW YORK, May 31 (Reuters) - Investors rushed into the perceived safety of Japanese yen on Friday, sending it to a four-month high against the dollar, after U.S. President Donald Trump's threat to impose tariffs on Mexico roiled financial markets and stoked recession fears. Taking aim at what he said was a surge of illegal immigrants across the southern border, Trump vowed on Thursday to impose a tariff on all goods coming from Mexico, starting at 5% and ratcheting higher until the flow of people ceases. The Mexican peso tumbled against the greenback, losing as much as 3.4% at one point, for its steepest single-day loss since October. Trump's surprise duties on Mexican imports "spurred sharp losses in the Mexican peso and a general risk-off move that strengthened the yen," said Marc Chandler, chief market strategist at Bannockburn Global Forex LLC. Several different currencies have served as safe havens during the global trade conflict, but the yen has consistently been among the strongest this year, and on Friday investors appeared to opt for the Japanese currency. The yen increased 0.89% at 108.655 per dollar and 0.76% per euro, respectively. For May, the Japanese currency was on track to gain 2.50% against the dollar and 3.17% versus the euro. The Swiss Franc also enticed safe-haven buying, rising 0.26% at $1.0051. The impact of escalating trade tensions between Washington and Beijing is starting to show up in economic data, with a key measure of Chinese manufacturing activity disappointing investors, and Trump's latest salvo fueled a rush on Friday to safe-haven assets such as government bonds and the yen.

The U.S. dollar has itself served as a safe haven currency in recent times, but on Friday, it fell 0.13% against a basket of other currencies, hovering below a two-year peak reached last week. For the month, the dollar index was on track for a 0.4% gain, extending its winning monthly streak to four. The dollar's broad losses on Friday were compounded by comments from senior policymakers, with the U.S. Federal Reserve Vice Chair Richard Clarida discussing the possibility of rate cuts should the world's biggest economy take a turn for the worse, though he also said he thought the U.S. economy is in "a very good place". U.S. interest rates futures implied traders expect at least one rate cut from the Federal Reserve by year-end. Goverment data on Friday showed a modest pickup in inflation in April, while a private report indicated a stronger-than-forecast improvement in U.S. Midwest manfacturing activity in May.


Currency bid prices at 11:15AM (1515 GMT)

Description RIC Last U.S. Close Pct Change YTD Pct High Bid Low BidPrevious Change


Euro/Dollar EUR= $1.1144 $1.1130 +0.13% -2.85%+1.1179 +1.1126Dollar/Yen JPY= 108.6400 109.6000 -0.88% -1.47%+109.6200 +108.5600Euro/Yen EURJPY= 121.07 121.98 -0.75% -4.08%+122.0300 +120.9300Dollar/Swiss CHF= 1.0051 1.0076 -0.25% +2.40%+1.0081 +1.0029Sterling/Dollar GBP= 1.2618 1.2606 +0.10% -1.09%+1.2638 +1.2560Dollar/Canadian CAD= 1.3525 1.3498 +0.20% -0.81%+1.3564 +1.3493Australian/Doll AUD= 0.6929 0.6911 +0.26% -1.70%+0.6943 +0.6902


Euro/Swiss EURCHF= 1.1200 1.1214 -0.12% -0.46%+1.1221 +1.1187Euro/Sterling EURGBP= 0.8830 0.8825 +0.06% -1.71%+0.8874 +0.8820NZ NZD= 0.6517 0.6509 +0.12% -2.98%+0.6535 +0.6499


Dollar/Norway NOK= 8.7551 8.7691 -0.16% +1.35%+8.7945 +8.7372Euro/Norway EURNOK= 9.7570 9.7623 -0.05% -1.50%+9.8034 +9.7517Dollar/Sweden SEK= 9.5147 9.5349 -0.07% +6.15%+9.5642 +9.5058Euro/Sweden EURSEK= 10.6030 10.6099 -0.07% +3.32%+10.6645 +10.6005

(Additional reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan in LONDON Editing by David Holmes, Stephen Powell and Tom Brown)