March 23, 2018 / 4:02 AM / a month ago

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 2 pct so far for the week

 (Adds comments, updates prices)
    By Eileen Soreng
    March 23 (Reuters) - Gold prices gained as much as 1 percent
on 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 strict
response from China amid fears of a global trade war.
    Trump signed a presidential memorandum on Thursday 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.             
    Uncertainties around a possible trade war between the United
States and China are driving some safe-haven buying, said
Hareesh V, head of commodity research, Geojit Financial
Services.
    Spot gold        was up 0.81 percent at $1,339.33 per ounce,
as of 0758 GMT. Earlier in the session, prices touched their
highest since Feb 20 at $1,343.06, and were on track for their
best weekly performance since the week of Feb. 16, rising over 2
percent.
    U.S. gold futures         for April delivery rose 0.9
percent to $1,339.50 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 0.2 percent at 89.72. 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. 
    "I think the prices will move higher again... If prices can
stabilize above $1,360 that would be an early signal for a
strong rally," Hareesh said.
    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 United States 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," 
analysts at OCBC Bank said in a note. 
    Among other precious metals, silver        climbed 1 percent
to $16.52 per ounce, while platinum        was 0.9 percent
higher at $955.30 per ounce. Both the metals were on track to
record their best weekly performance in five weeks.
    Palladium        rose 0.2 percent to $981.97 per ounce.

 (Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by Richard
Pullin and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
  
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