April 7, 2017 / 1:56 AM / 3 months ago

FOREX-Dollar slips vs yen after U.S. launches missile strike on Syria

4 Min Read

* Market focus also on U.S.-China talks, U.S. jobs data

* Euro slumps after dovish hints from ECB's Draghi

* March jobs report expected to show a rise of 180,000

TOKYO, April 7 (Reuters) - The dollar skidded against the perceived safe-haven Japanese yen on Friday after the United States launched cruise missiles at an airbase in Syria in response to Syrian forces' alleged use of chemical weapons on Thursday.

An U.S. official said the strike has already been completed.

Against the yen, which tends to gain in times of geopolitical tension or risk aversion, the dollar erased its early modest gains and dropped 0.3 percent to 110.40 yen, down 0.9 percent for the week.

Some 50 Tomahawk missiles were launched from U.S. Navy warships in the Mediterranean Sea, the U.S. official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. A target was identified as an airbase in Homs. Further details on the target and the results of the strikes were not immediately known.

Trump ordered the strikes just a day after he pointed the finger at Assad for this week's chemical attack, which killed at least 70 people, many of them children, in the Syrian town of Khan Sheikhoun. The Syrian government has denied it was behind the attack.

Trump had said on Thursday that "something should happen" with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad after the poison gas attack in that country.

The air strike comes amid a summit between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, and will add a new dimension to their talks.

Market participants now await the outcome of talks between the U.S. and Chinese leaders, as well as the monthly jobs report that could back views for more U.S. interest rate hikes.

The dollar index, which gauges the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, was down slightly on the day at 100.63, up 0.3 percent for the week.

Later on Friday, the U.S. nonfarm payrolls report is expected to show an increase of 180,000 jobs in March, compared with 235,000 in February, according to economists polled by Reuters, which could reinforce expectations that the Federal Reserve will deliver two more interest rate increases this calendar year.

The meeting had a strong focus on trade and North Korea's military programme, although Masashi Murata, senior currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman in Tokyo, said "I think the market has no strong expectations from the U.S.-China summit."

The U.S. president has also warned that he would be ready to act unilaterally to address North Korea's nuclear program if China does not step up to help in the matter.

Trump's domestic policy agenda was put in the spotlight on Thursday, when U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan said tax reform would take longer to accomplish than healthcare reform. Ryan said that Congress and the White House were initially closer to agreement on healthcare legislation than on tax policy.

Currency policy was also in focus, after an administration official told Reuters that "misalignment" was seen as more significant than "currency manipulation" as a cause of trade deficits.

"Currency misalignment is different from currency manipulation and currency undervaluation," the official said. "So we want to see a process of analysing currency situations that includes whether it's misaligned, not just whether it's devalued or manipulated."

The euro was slightly higher on the day at $1.0647, after dovish comments from European Central Bank President Mario Draghi helped push it to a three week low of $1.0629 overnight. It was down 0.1 percent for the week.

Draghi said on Thursday that he does "not see cause to deviate" from the ECB's stated policy path, which includes bond buying at least until the end of the year and record-low rates until well after that to stimulate inflation. (Reporting by Tokyo markets team; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Eric Meijer)

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