By Abhinav Ramnarayan
LONDON, May 24 (Reuters) - The dollar edged away from two-year highs on Friday after weak U.S. manufacturing activity data sparked worries that the trade conflict with China may hurt the world's largest economy and affect the currency's safe-haven status.
Against a basket of six major currencies, the dollar .DXY was down 0.2% at 97.686 in early European trade and 0.7% off a two-year high of 98.371 hit the previous session.
The fall followed overnight data showing manufacturing activity hit its lowest level in almost a decade in May, suggesting a sharp slowdown in U.S. economic growth was under way.
Up to now, the bulk of the pain from the trade war has been felt in Asia, with economies from Singapore to Thailand all posting poor numbers.
"Lot of people for good reasons thought trade wars may be U.S. dollar-positive and other countries cannot retaliate," said Commerzbank FX strategist Ulrich Leuchtmann.
"But in reality, it's more difficult. This very disappointing PMI data and other factors like the Huawei story are all creating stress for the U.S. economy and derailing sentiment."
President Donald Trump said on Thursday that U.S. complaints against Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [RIC:RIC:HWT.UL] might be resolved within the framework of a U.S.-China trade deal, while at the same time calling the Chinese telecommunications giant "very dangerous".
Escalating trade tensions and weak data have fuelled rate cut expectations from the Fed. Money markets broadly expect one rate cut by October followed by another by January 2020.
The dollar weakness helped sterling recover slightly from a 4-1/2 month low GBP=D3 while the euro briefly inched above $1.12 to hit a one-week high EUR=EBS.
Against the yen, the dollar edged down to 109.50 yen JPY=, extending losses overnight, when it gave up two-thirds of a percent, its steepest drop in a single session in two months.
The euro might have also been helped by the Dutch part of the EU parliamentary elections, in which an exit poll showed the Labour party of European Commissioner Frans Timmermans won a surprise victory over a Eurosceptic challenger who had been topping opinion surveys.
The euro has been pinned lower in recent weeks by the prospect of Eurosceptic parties across the continent performing well in the elections.
(Reporting by Abhinav Ramnarayan; editing by John Stonestreet)
((Abhinav.Ramnarayan@thomsonreuters.com; 0044 7517 451 044))
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