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Monday February 15, 2010 - 11:09:41 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Euro on defensive as Greece worries persist

5:12am EST

* Euro subdued on Greek, Dubai uncertainty

* Euro hits day's low of $1.3578

* Short euro positions at record high

* Japan economy grows at fastest pace since Q2 2009

(Adds quotes, updates prices)

By Tamawa Desai

LONDON, Feb 15 (Reuters) - Concerns over Greece and Dubai pressured the euro on Monday, with data showing currency speculators had added further bets the single European currency will fall against the dollar.

There were few expectations that meetings of euro zone and European Union finance ministers on Monday and Tuesday would yield specific measures to bail out Greece after EU leaders pledged to support it last week.

"More details on official support for Greece seems unlikely following last week's summit which indicated that core euro zone countries, led by Germany, will act as lenders of last resort in the event of a systemic threat to the euro and regional sovereign credit spreads," said Lena Komileva, head of G7 market economics at Tullett Prebon.

"The near-term focus for Ecofin is to ensure that there is a credible political and institutional EU framework in place to help Greece deliver on its fiscal reform commitments."

By 0928 GMT, the euro was down 0.1 percent from late Friday trade in New York at $1.3600 <EUR=>, after falling to the day's low of $1.3578, according to electronic trading platform EBS. It had hit a 9-month low of $1.3532 on Friday.

Activity was slow with many Asian markets closed for the Lunar New Year holiday and U.S. markets also shut for a holiday.

The euro was vulnerable to a test of $1.3483, a 61.8 percent retracement of the rally from below $1.25 in early March to the $1.5144 high in November, traders said.

"Anything other than a formal endorsement of the Commission's assessment of Greece's budget and the additional measures promised on public sector pay, energy taxes and public pensions would be a surprise," analysts at RBC Capital Markets said in a note.

ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet said on Sunday that Greece must take extra measures to fix its budget deficit and scrutiny of its economic indicators must be heightened. [ID:nLDE61D0DC]

Latest data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed currency speculators increased bets on the dollar to their highest since 2008, while net short euro positions rose to a record in the week to Feb 9. [ID:nN12122806]

For a graphic on CFTC data see



Jitters about Greece and other smaller euro zone countries with big deficits have contributed to the euro's near 10 percent decline since late 2009.

The spread between Portuguese and benchmark German government bond yields widened again on Monday. [ID:nLDE61E0GW]

Concerns about debt restructuring at government-backed Dubai World weighed on sentiment and investors' appetite for risk. The cost of insuring five-year Dubai government debt against default rose to 651 basis points, its highest since March last year.

Dubai denied on Sunday a Dow Jones report that the firm was mulling a two-part deal, including one that may repay lenders 60 percent over seven years. [ID:nLDE61D0AM]

The dollar index, which tracks the performance of the greenback versus a basket of six other major currencies, rose 0.1 percent at 80.378 <.DXY>. It rose to 80.748 late last week, its highest since July 2009.

Data on Monday showed Japan's economy grew 1.1 percent in October-December from the previous quarter, more than expected and at its fastest pace in two quarters. But markets focused on a sharp fall in the GDP deflator as a sign deflation may deepen. [ID:nTOE61805L]

The dollar was flat against the yen <JPY=> at 90.05 yen while the euro was down 0.1 percent at 122.47 yen <EURJPY=R>.

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