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Thursday April 22, 2010 - 10:20:06 GMT
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FOREX NEWS - Euro falls on Greece concerns; sterling shines

6:14am EDT

* Euro falls as Eurostat shows bigger Greece budget deficit

* Euro down 0.1 pct at $1.3363 <EUR=>

* Euro stops seen around $1.3350, support around $1.3340

* Yen briefly hit by Fitch comments on Japan rating

(Adds quote, updates prices)

By Tamawa Desai

LONDON, April 22 (Reuters) - The euro fell on Thursday after data showing Greece's budget deficit was worse than previously thought highlighted concerns the Greek debt crisis could impact other euro zone countries.

Eurostat revised Greece's 2009 budget deficit by to 13.6 percent of gross domestic product from 12.7 percent. The figures pushed the euro to a session low of $1.3356.

The Greek/German 10-year government bond yield spread <GR10YT=TWEB><DE10YT=TWEB> jumped to 542 basis points, and the cost of insuring Greek debt from default surged to record highs.

"The euro could have been affected by the Eurostat data as the Greek budget deficit figures were higher," said Adarsh Sinha, currency strategist at Barclays Capital. "The data highlights the fiscal issues and contagion issues."

The data came as Greece started talks with European and IMF officials on Wednesday on a potential aid deal and a three-year economic policy plan but it could take several weeks before Athens can tap the funds if needed. [ID:nLDE63K0CE]

Greece needs to raise about 10 billion euros by end-May to refinance existing debt, make interest payments and fund the deficit.

"The focus has moved from liquidity concerns to one where the market is discounting a debt restructuring or possible default," said Lee Hardman, currency economist at Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.

By 1041 GMT, the euro was down 0.1 percent at $1.3363 <EUR=>. Support was seen around $1.3340, traders said.

Against the pound, the euro hit a two-month trough of 86.61 pence <EURGBP=D4> after UK data suggested Britain's outlook has brightened and ahead of GDP numbers due on Friday.

Data on Thursday showed UK retail sales came in at a lower-than-expected 0.4 percent on month in March, but February's figures were revised higher.

YEN GAINS

The yen benefited as investors pared exposure to riskier assets, and on media reports the Bank of Japan may upgrade its inflation and growth forecasts in a semi-annual report next week.

The BOJ was expected to forecast consumer price growth of up to 0.2 percent for the year to March 2012, the Yomiuri newspaper reported. Growth for this year was likely to be revised up to around 2 percent. [ID:nTOE63L02B]

The yen's gains were briefly dented after ratings firm Fitch Ratings said that ,in the absence of sustained economic recovery and fiscal consolidation, Japan's government debt would rise further, putting downwards pressure on sovereign credit and ratings over the medium term. [ID:nWLB3179]

The dollar rose to the day's high of 93.34 yen. It was last flat on the day at 93.07 yen <JPY=>. Offers were seen above 93.40 yen, traders said.

U.S. President Barack Obama was due to speak in New York later on Thursday and expected to call on the financial industry to support regulatory reform.

"Risk aversion is growing in anticipation of Obama's speech, which could restrain demand to re-establish yen carry trades in the near term," said BTM-UFJ's Hardman.

Speaking ahead of Group of 20 and International Monetary Fund meetings kicking off in Washington later in the day, central bank chiefs of India and Brazil backed U.S. calls for a stronger Chinese currency. [ID:nN14251988]

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