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Friday January 15, 2010 - 10:05:16 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Euro falls broadly, stung by Greece, ECB view

4:10am EST

* Euro/dlr falls 0.8 pct on Greece concerns

* Euro hit by rumour, later denied, of Merkel resignation

* Market awaits U.S. CPI, Empire Survey due later in the day

(Adds comment, updates throughout; previous TOKYO)

By Naomi Tajitsu

LONDON, Jan 15 (Reuters) - The euro fell broadly on Friday, pressured as concerns about the struggling Greek economy highlighted weakness in the euro zone and bolstered expectations interest rates in the region will stay low for months.

Market participants said rumours German Chancellor Angela Merkel may resign also stung the euro, although they were later denied. [ID:nLDE60E05K]

Comments from European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet on Friday that Europe was facing a "major debt problem" were doing no favours for the euro. He also emphasised the importance of a strong dollar. [ID:nLDE60E0CL]

His comments came after he signalled on Thursday that euro zone interest rates would remain firmly on hold at a record low of 1.0 percent. The ECB kept them unchanged for the eighth month in a row, in line with market expectations.

Euro losses boosted the dollar, which rose despite weak U.S. retail sales and jobless claims data on Thursday. Investors awaited U.S. CPI and manufacturing numbers later on Friday for clues about the pace of the U.S. economic recovery.

"It's a macro race between the U.S. and the euro zone," said Peter Frank, currency strategist at Societe Generale in London, adding that sovereign and political issues were keeping the euro under selling pressure.

Investor confidence in Greece has fallen as its deficit has ballooned and credit ratings have been cut, weighing on the euro in the past couple of months. [ID:nLDE60D1N0]

Frank added, "If we see strong U.S. data later today, the dollar will rise; if it's weak the euro will rise. It's a fairly reactionary market today."

Markets also anticipated a fourth-quarter report later in the day from JPMorgan Chase & Co., which kicks off the year-end earnings season for major U.S financial institutions.

By 0839 GMT, the euro <EUR=> had fallen roughly 0.8 percent on the day to a session low around $1.4380. Against sterling <EURGBP=D4>, it fell to a four-month low of 88.11 pence.


The single European currency fell sharply in Asia, when rumours that Merkel would resign followed the publication of a Time magazine report about her domestic political problems. A German government spokesman quickly denied those rumours.

The euro extended losses in early European trade, but staved off further losses due to demand from Middle Eastern buyers around the day's low. Its 21-day moving average around $1.4380 was also seen offering some support.

Against a currency basket, the dollar <.DXY> rose half a percent to 77.115, pushed higher by its gains versus the euro.

Still, the dollar <JPY=> fell 0.4 percent to 90.66 yen, its lowest in nearly four weeks, as the yen gained broadly on the back of a slide in higher-yielding currencies, which suffered from investors cutting back risky positions.

Concerns about the state of global economy, triggered in part by the U.S. data, hit the Australian the New Zealand dollars, which each fell around 0.6 percent against their U.S. counterpart while dropping 1.2 percent versus the yen.

The euro <EURJPY=R> also fell 1.2 percent to 130.50 yen, its weakest in nearly four weeks.

(Editing by Nigel Stephenson)

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