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Friday January 29, 2010 - 11:05:03 GMT
Reuters - www.reuters.com

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FOREX NEWS-Euro comes off lows; all eyes on U.S. GDP

5:40am EST

* Euro steadies from multi-month lows vs dollar, yen

* Euro flat at $1.3960; $1.4000 options eyed

* Yen crosses recoup loss; dollar up 0.3 pct at 90.15 yen

* Dollar index hits 5-month high; U.S. GDP eyed

(Adds quotes, updates prices)

By Neal Armstrong

LONDON, Jan 29 (Reuters) - The euro steadied after hitting multi-month lows on Friday as uncertainty over U.S. GDP data led to squaring up of short positions, and on reports Greece would get support from its European peers.

The U.S. economy is expected to have grown at an annualised 4.6 percent in the fourth quarter, double the rate in the third quarter when the economy resumed expansion after four consecutive quarters of decline.

"The market has stabilised before we go into the U.S. GDP number later today and I think that's going to drive the next leg of the price action," said HSBC director of currency strategy Paul Mackel.

"Uncertainty over this number is huge and that is one of the reasons why we're see profit taking."

Investors this week had heavily sold Greek and other euro zone peripheral bonds on concerns whether they could grapple with their huge fiscal deficits.

The Financial Times quoted high-level EU officials as saying Greece would in the last resort receive emergency support from other euro zone governments and the European Commission.

"A more positive environment is growing in that it looks like European authorities are putting together a package for Greece and that appears a likely option in coming months," said Lee Hardman, currency economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.

The premium to hold Greek debt against benchmark German bonds narrowed on Friday after hitting record highs this week. The Portuguese/German bond spread widened slightly. [ID:nLDE60S0EJ]

The single European currency was flat on the day at $1.3960 <EUR=>, recovering from an early drop to $1.3912 on trading platform EBS, its weakest since mid-July.

Traders eyed whether the pair would end above or below its 55-week moving average of around $1.3983. They also cited large options with strike price of $1.4000 expiring later in the day and influencing price action.

Still, the euro was on track to fall 2.5 percent against the dollar for the month, after a 4.5 percent drop in December.

Against the yen, the euro hit a nine-month low of 124.81 yen on EBS. It was last up 0.3 percent at 125.90 yen.

The euro also tumbled against the Swiss franc, dropping to 1.4645 francs <EURCHF=R>, its lowest since last March, the month the Swiss National Bank intervened to counter franc strength.

Wariness of Swiss central bank intervention capped a further rise in the Swiss franc, traders said.

DOLLAR INDEX

The dollar index <.DXY>, a measure of its performance against six other major currencies, touched a five-month high at 79.156. It was last up 0.1 percent on the day at 78.957.

The dollar rose 0.3 percent at 90.17 yen <JPY=>, recovering from a session low of around 89.59 yen. It had hit a six-week low of 89.14 yen on Wednesday.

The yen's gains were trimmed as dollar buying emerged related to Japanese investment trusts, known as toushin, a trader at a Japanese brokerage said.

U.S. fourth-quarter gross domestic product data is due out at 1330 GMT.

"Uncertainty over the GDP number comes down to the inventories data", said HSBC's Mackel, adding he was looking for a weaker figure than consensus.

The U.S. Senate on Thursday backed Ben Bernanke for a second four-year term running the Federal Reserve, but by the stiffest opposition to any nominee for Fed chairman in the nearly 32 years the Senate has voted on the position. [ID:nN27143856]

The Aussie fell to its lowest in six weeks below 79.70 yen <AUDJPY=R> before recovering some ground to 80.50 yen.

Both the Australian and New Zealand dollars briefly hit their lowest in a month against the dollar. (Additional reporting by Tamawa Desai; Editing by Andy Bruce)

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