April 15, 2019 / 1:08 AM / in 3 months

FOREX-Yen near this year's lows as risk appetite improves

* Yen near this year’s low on rising risk appetite

* Aussie at 1-1/2-month high as China data improves

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

By Hideyuki Sano

TOKYO, April 15 (Reuters) - The yen hovered near its lowest level this year on Monday as more signs of stabilisation in the Chinese economy and an upbeat start to the U.S. earnings season prompted investors to abandon the safe-haven currency to seek higher returns elsewhere.

The dollar firmed to 112.02 yen, near Friday’s high of 112.10, which was near its year-to-date high of 112.135 touched in early March.

The safe-haven Swiss franc has also eased against the euro, which strengthened to 1.1329 franc, recovering its losses made late last month to hit a three-week high on the franc.

The common currency traded at $1.1304, keeping intact its slow recovery from $1.1183 touched on April 2. It rose to as high as $1.1324 on Friday.

Chinese data published on Friday showed exports rebounded sharply and new bank loans increased far more than expected in March.

Although China’s imports remained weak, the data on the whole cemented hopes that the Chinese economy is bottoming out after a soft patch as Beijing has curbed de-leveraging efforts and stepped up support for the economy in recent months.

U.S. stocks also rallied on Friday on strong earnings from JPMorgan and an 11.5-percent jump in Walt Disney Co on news that it will start streaming services.

The S&P 500 index has reached its highest level in six months, coming within sight of testing a record high marked in September last year.

The more positive mood helped offset any concerns about upcoming trade talks between the United States and Japan, in which Washington is expected to include a currency provision in a bilateral trade agreement.

“We are seeing a classical risk-on market,” said Minori Uchida, chief currency analyst at MUFG Bank.

But Uchida also believes the dollar’s upside may be limited, given that speculators have already built up large long positions in the U.S. currency.

Data from U.S. watchdog on Friday showed speculators bolstered their net long U.S. dollar position in the latest week, pushing it to the highest since December 2015.

Against the yen, their net dollar long position was at the highest in about three months.

Elsewhere, the Australian dollar stood at $0.7173, having hit a 1-1/2-month high of $0.71925.

The British pound fetched $1.3080, stuck in its recent trading range as fears of a no-deal Brexit have receded for now. (Editing by Shri Navaratnam)

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