March 8, 2016 / 4:10 PM / 2 years ago

FOREX-Weak Chinese trade data lift yen, Swiss franc

* Disappointing China data revives global demand concerns

* Falling oil, metal prices weigh on commodity currencies

* ECB seen likely to ease but investors ponder extent

* BoE’s Carney says Brexit would hurt U.K. economy (Updates to U.S. trading; changes byline, dateline; previous LONDON)

By Richard Leong

NEW YORK, March 8 (Reuters) - Weak Chinese trade data stoked safe-haven demand for the yen and the Swiss franc on Tuesday as investors shed holdings of stocks and other risky investments on renewed concerns about a slowing global economy.

Lower oil and industrial metal prices, which had reached multi-month highs in recent days, added pressure on the Canadian and Australian dollars and other commodity-sensitive currencies.

China’s exports slumped 25.4 percent in February from a year earlier, the steepest drop since May 2009, while imports dropped 13.8 percent for a 16th consecutive monthly fall.

“If China is in trouble, we are seeing a flight to safety here,” said Stan Shipley, strategist at Evercore ISI in New York.

Investors prefer the yen and Swiss franc in times of market volatility and economic worries.

The dollar was down 0.6 percent at 112.68 yen after hitting a one-week low of 112.66. The euro slipped 0.5 percent at 124.36 yen.

The Swiss franc was up 0.2 percent against the greenback at 0.9928 franc and marginally firmer at 1.0958 franc per euro.

The Australian and Canadian dollars pulled away from multi-month highs touched on a rally in commodity prices.

The Aussie fell 0.4 percent to $0.7443 after reaching a high not seen since July of $0.7486 on Monday.

The Canadian dollar weakened 0.8 percent to C$1.3384 per U.S. dollar. It had strengthened to C$1.3262 on Monday, its highest since November.

Benchmark Brent crude oil futures hit a three-month high of $41.48 a barrel before turning lower, to be last down 2.6 percent at $39.78.

Copper retreated further from last week’s four-month highs, and was last down 2.8 percent at $4,861.00 a tonne on the London Metal Exchange.

The euro’s move was limited ahead of a European Central Bank policy meeting on Thursday, when traders widely expect the bank will embark on more stimulus to support a wobbly euro zone economy.

Investors are uncertain how far it will go. Euro bears are cautious about positioning for bold action, having been badly burned previously when the ECB disappointed by choosing to take more modest easing steps.

The euro was up 0.2 percent at $1.1033, holding in a tight range against the dollar.

Sterling fell 0.6 percent against the dollar to $1.4185 after Bank of England Governor Mark Carney warned a potential exit by Britain from the European Union would hurt the economy and prompt some banks to leave London. (Additional reporting by Anirban Nag in London and Lisa Twaronite in Tokyo; Editing by Ed Osmond and James Dalgleish)

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