March 23, 2018 / 6:17 AM / 5 months ago

FOREX-Yen rises on trade war fears, Turkish lira touches record low

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

* Turkish lira hits record low of 4.0375 per U.S. dollar

* Stop-loss cross/yen sales, including TRY/JPY cited

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

* Yen rises broadly on risk aversion (Updates prices, adds comments)

By Masayuki Kitano

SINGAPORE, March 23 (Reuters) - The yen hit a 16-month high against the dollar on Friday, while the Turkish lira skidded to a record low as rising global trade tensions triggered a bout of investor jitters.

The yen rose amid talk of position unwinding by Japanese retail investors, who had held long positions in higher-yielding currencies such as the Turkish lira against the Japanese currency.

“It’s mainly driven by cross/yen selling and stops from retail (investors) from what we can see,” said Tarek Horchani, head of sales trading in Asia-Pacific for Saxo Markets in Singapore, referring to the yen’s rise in early Asian trade.

Horchani added that there was also dollar-selling interest among options players looking to hedge their positions.

The dollar fell to as low as 104.635 yen in early Asian trade on Friday, the greenback’s lowest level since November 2016. The dollar was last down 0.5 percent at 104.80 yen.

The Turkish lira slid by more than 3 percent against the yen early on Friday. It was last down around 1.2 percent on the day at roughly around 26.42 yen.

Against the U.S. dollar, the lira fell to a record low of 4.0375 per dollar at one point. After paring some of its losses, the Turkish lira last stood at 3.965 per dollar, still down around 0.8 percent on the day.

The broad rise in the yen came as financial markets were rattled by worries over rising U.S.-China trade tensions.

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

China’s commerce ministry responded on Friday with news it was planning measures against up to $3 billion of U.S. imports to balance U.S. tariffs on Chinese steel and aluminium products.

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.

“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.

In the stock market, Japan’s Nikkei share average tumbled 4.5 percent.

Global trade tensions are likely to stay in the spotlight for now, said Teppei Ino, an analyst for Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ in Singapore.

“The risk seems tilted toward further (dollar/yen) downside going into next week,” Ino added.

The euro also weakened against the yen, hitting a low of 128.96 yen, the euro’s lowest level since August 2017. After paring its losses, the euro was down 0.2 percent at 129.31 yen.

Against the dollar, the euro rose 0.3 percent to $1.2335 . (Reporting by Masayuki Kitano in Singapore, additional reporting by Swati Pandey in Sydney and Reuters FX analyst Rick Lloyd; editing by Richard Pullin and Eric Meijer)

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