* Australian and New Zealand dollars both rise vs greenback
* Indian rupee posts biggest one-day gain in month and a half
* Danish crown retreats from near three-month high (Recasts, updates with New York open, changes dateline and byline)
By Daniel Bases
NEW YORK, April 25 (Reuters) - Investors moved to the safety of the yen and Swiss franc on Friday, unnerved by escalating tensions between the West and Russia over Ukraine, and also took advantage of higher yielding Pacific currencies.
Mixed U.S. data in recent weeks has left investors without a clear trend, which is now being trumped by the geopolitical concerns in Europe, a combination that has made placing big bets on currency movements high risk endeavors.
“Neither of these two themes are dominant and if you play on one you get hit with the other, which is why today I think we are seeing a little bit of buying of Pacific currencies,” said Steven Englander, global head of G10 FX strategy at CitiFX in New York.
“I wouldn’t say the economic news out of Asia has been good but it is far from the eye of the storm, and if you can pick up a bit of yield there, people are sitting around saying, Why not?” he added.
The dollar fell to 102.02 yen, down 0.28 percent on the day and its worst levels in a week. The greenback traded in a narrow range against the Swiss franc, slipping 0.07 percent to 0.8805 franc, having fallen to a one-week low of 0.8798 franc earlier in the day.
The Australian dollar bounced from a 2-1-2 week nadir, trading at $0.9283, up 0.21 percent. The New Zealand dollar climbed 0.16 percent to $0.8584. The greenback fell 0.82 percent against the Indian rupee to 60.60. The rupee currency snapped a three-day losing streak and posted its biggest single-day gain in a month and a half.
With tensions between Ukraine and Russia high, Ukrainian special forces launched a second phase of their operation in the east of the country on Friday, an official on the presidential staff said. Ukraine’s forces killed up to five pro-Moscow rebels on Thursday.
“There has been a slight boost in risk aversion which is supporting the yen,” Credit Agricole FX strategist Manuel Oliveri said.
“But geopolitical risks are not having too much of an impact on currencies, with most investors still focused on growth prospects. If risk sentiment improves, the yen will be sold off,” he said.
The euro was little changed, adding just 0.04 percent to $1.3836.
Earlier in Europe, volumes in euro/Danish crown trades picked up for a second day, according to Reuters Matching. The euro recovered from a near three-month low against the crown of 7.4614 to trade at 7.4647 crowns.
The crown had soared after the Danish central bank surprised the market by raising the rate on certificate of deposits and ending a regime of negative interest rates in a bid to stem outflows and support the currency. (Additional reporting by Anirban Nag in London and Masayuki Kitano in Singapore; Editing by Leslie Adler)