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Monday May 17, 2010 - 10:49:22 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Euro tumbles to 4-year low on debt, growth worries

5:37am EDT

* Euro <EUR=> falls to four-month low of $1.2237

* Sharp fall in currency fuels capitulation concerns

* Euro zone crisis sparks dollar money market liquidity concerns

(Adds quote, detail)

By Neal Armstrong

LONDON, May 17 (Reuters) - The euro slid to a four-year low on Monday on sovereign debt worries and fears that planned belt-tightening measures will hurt euro zone growth, fuelling concerns the single currency may face free-fall.

The euro extended its losses after falling below the post-Lehman October 2008 low around $1.2330, where stop-losses from model accounts were said to lurk, and fell as far as $1.2234 on trading platform EBS, its lowest since April 2006.

It has fallen more than 7 percent against the dollar this month, and is about 14 percent lower for the year, making it the worst-performing major currency.

"The euro is a one-way trade right now and capitulation is on my mind. I can see a move towards $1.2000 at least," said Kenneth Broux, market economist at Lloyds Banking Group.

At 0920 GMT, the euro had clawed its way back to trade at $1.2310, still down around 0.4 percent on the day. Traders said volatile trade was impacting liquidity, making for exacerbated moves.

Traders reported offers placed around $1.2330, while next technical analysts noted next support at $1.2175, the 50 percent retracement of the rally from the all-time lows near $0.82 to the record highs just above $1.60.

Analysts said the widening euro zone problems had prompted a money market dollar liquidity shortage.

"If the sharp deterioration in money markets persists into this week, look for central bank action to lower the cost of access to their dollar funding facilities," Citibank analysts said in a note.

A 750 billion euro rescue package from the European Union and the International Bond Fund aimed at shoring up euro zone bond markets has done little to underpin the euro.

"Panic is now showing up in the euro currency because it can't be really expressed in the bond markets after the EU/IMF package," said Stuart Bennett, currency analyst at Credit Agricole CIB.

"Fiscal and economic concerns are likely to weigh on the euro for the foreseeable future," he said.

On Friday, the single currency euro plunged after European Central Bank policymaker Axel Weber said it was important not to underestimate lingering dangers to financial stability. [ID:nLAG006286].

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday the rescue plan put together by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund had only bought time to sort out the yawning gap between the euro zone's strongest and weakest economies. [ID:nLDE64F0FQ].

Traders fear the austerity measures announced by Greece, Spain and Portugal would hurt growth in the near term and force the European Central Bank to keep rates low in the medium term.

Data released on Friday showed speculative bets against the euro hit a record high in the week to May 11. [ID:nN14193796].

Against the yen, the euro traded down 0.7 percent at 113.80 yen after falling 112.47 <EURJPY=R> in Asia.

Sterling slid to its lowest since March 2009 at $1.4249 <GBP=D4> before rising back to $1.4450, still down 0.6 percent on the day. The pound was knocked on data showing the past year's rise in British house prices may be cooling. [ID:nLDE64C1G4]

Weakness in the euro and the pound helped the dollar index <.DXY>, to rise above 87.00, the highest since March 2009. It later eased to 86.576.

(Editing by Jason Webb)

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