* U.S. July homebuilder confidence at 15-month low
* U.S. economic concerns grow; more housing data due
* Ireland downgrade, collapse of Hungary talks dent euro
* Euro zone bank stress tests results due Friday (Updates prices, adds details about forthcoming U.S. data)
By Steven C. Johnson and Wanfeng Zhou
NEW YORK, July 19 (Reuters) - The dollar fell against the euro on Monday as U.S. homebuilder sentiment slumped to a 15-month low, stoking fears that the U.S. economic recovery was running out of steam.
The euro traded near a recent two-month high against the dollar, rebounding from earlier lows hit after Moody's cut Ireland's debt rating while negotiations between Hungary and international lenders broke down. For details, see [ID:nLDE66I0FY] [ID:nLDE66H021]
Demand for the dollar fell after the NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market index fell more than expected in July to its lowest level since April 2009 after a popular tax credit for homebuyers expired in April.
The report was the latest in a string of data that has flashed warnings about the state of the U.S. economy and quashed expectations of a Federal Reserve interest rate hike this year.
"The euro is simply trading on U.S. weakness," said Joseph Trevisani, chief analyst at FX Solutions in Saddle River, New Jersey. "We've had two or three weeks of increasingly poor U.S. statistics and that's really the issue now."
Analysts say markets are particularly sensitive to housing data as the sector's deterioration was a major reason for the U.S. economy's descent into recession and will be a crucial component of a lasting recovery.
The Commerce Department will release June housing starts data on Tuesday, and economists polled by Reuters expect to see a 2.2 percent decline.
The euro was up 0.4 percent at $1.2845 EUR= after earlier hitting a session low of $1.2872. Traders said a large buy order from the Middle East, executed through a major U.S. bank in London had lifted the euro to a session high of $1.2991.
The euro rose 0.7 percent to 112.38 yen EURJPY= and also rose against sterling EURGBP= while the dollar added 0.3 percent to 86.80 yen JPY=, bouncing back from Friday's seven-month low.
BANKS AWAIT THEIR GRADES
Investors also awaited the results of stress tests on 91 European banks due on Friday.
Bankers and officials in Greece, Spain and Belgium joined a chorus of countries expecting their banks to pass European stress tests, but doubts linger over whether the health checks are tough or transparent enough. [ID:nLDE66I14A]
"We expect the stress test to be well received, but its main effect on the euro will be to reduce the probability of a large downside move," said Raghav Subbarao, currency strategist at Barclays Capital.
Some analysts said a recent rebound in the euro, which hit a two-month high of $1.3008 on electronic trading platform EBS on Friday, may have been overdone.
"The euro's recent strength has been exaggerated by positions, as people scale back from extremely short positions," Subbarao said.
The latest data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed speculators positions have been increasing long in the yen while cutting longs in the dollar, especially against the euro and pound. <IMM/FX>
Kathy Lien, director of research at GFT Forex in New York, said the euro's break above the 100-day simple moving average around $1.29 last week bolstered demand for the currency.
Technical analysts saw near-term support at around $1.2850 -- the 50 percent retracement between the euro's fall from a high near $1.3820 in March to a four-year low of $1.1876 in early June.