February 25, 2019 / 8:34 AM / in 4 months

FOREX-Yuan hits 7-month high, Aussie gains after Trump delays tariffs

* China-U.S trade talks make “substantial progress”

* Aussie, Kiwi also notch up gains

* Analysts caution that trade optimism priced in

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

By Tommy Wilkes

LONDON, Feb 25 (Reuters) - China’s yuan touched a seven-month high and commodity-linked currencies like the Australian and New Zealand dollars gained on Monday after U.S. President Donald Trump confirmed he would delay a planned hike in tariffs on Chinese imports.

Trump said on Sunday that he would push back the March 1 deadline as talks between Washington and Beijing to end their months-long trade war made “substantial progress”.

Chinese equities surged as investors piled into riskier assets, and European shares also opened higher.

The offshore yuan rose to as high as 6.6737 per dollar and was up 0.1 percent at 6.6972 by 0805 GMT.

“There was a huge risk premium in the renminbi that is being priced out,” said Esther Reichelt, Frankfurt-based FX strategist at Commerzbank. News of the postponement was “not that much of a surprise” as the market had already been factoring in reduced China-U.S. trade tensions.

The Australian dollar, seen as a proxy for China risk because of Australia’s dependence on Chinese demand for its exports, rose 0.4 percent to $0.7160.

The New Zealand dollar firmed 0.4 percent to $0.6868 .

Moves in currency markets, however, were more muted than in stocks.

Shinichiro Kadota, senior forex and rates strategist at Barclays in Tokyo, said he expected the market focus would shift back to global economic fundamentals.

Concern about Chinese economic growth and global growth have weighed on investor sentiment in recent months, although 2019 has also seen a huge rally in risk assets after the U.S. Federal Reserve pressed pause on its interest rate-hiking cycle.

The euro notched up small gains against a dollar broadly weakened by Monday’s risk-on mood.

The single currency gained 0.1 percent to $1.1347, keeping the exchange rate within recent trading ranges.

The dollar index, which measures it against a basket of other currencies, fell 0.1 percent to 96.423.

Sterling added 0.3 percent to $1.3092 as traders digested news that the British government was considering how to proceed with Brexit - Britain’s departure from the European Union is set for March 29 - including a possible delay.

Prime Minister Theresa May also put off a vote on her Brexit deal until as late as March 12, setting up a showdown this week with lawmakers who accuse her of running down the clock.

The Japanese yen was unchanged against the dollar at 110.64 yen per dollar. (Additional reporting by Tomo Uetake in Tokyo; editing by John Stonestreet)

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