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Monday August 23, 2010 - 10:08:08 GMT
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FOREX NEWS - Euro shorts extended, Aussie bounces

5:51am EDT

* Euro vulnerable; short positions extended

* Technical support eyed at $1.2679 and $1.2605

* Australian dollar bounces but still downside risks

(Adds quote, updates throughout)

By Neal Armstrong

LONDON, Aug 23 (Reuters) - The euro stayed under broad pressure on Monday, hurt by concerns over the euro zone economy which have seen short positions in the single currency extended.

The Australian dollar recovered losses after being dented by political uncertainty after an inconclusive general election.

The latest Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed an extension in euro short positions in the week ended Aug. 17 as focus shifted away from specific concerns about the U.S. economy and back on to the euro zone. [ID:nN20156189] ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

For a graphic on euro positioning, click on

r.reuters.com/rax56n ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

"There's a rotation going on and focus has shifted to conditions in the euro zone again. The market is trying to capitalise on it," said Paul Mackel, director of currency strategy at HSBC.

The August euro zone flash purchasing managers index for manufacturing, which drove a large part of the economy's return to growth in the third quarter of last year, saw the pace of growth slow. [ID:nSLAKJE6AH]

"August's fall in the euro zone PMI is a sign that the recovery might be starting to slow, although the index points to strong growth for now," said Jennifer McKeown at Global Economics.

At 0915 GMT, the euro was trading down 0.1 percent on the day at $1.2690. This was not far from five-week lows of $1.2664 versus the dollar EUR= hit on Friday when European Central Bank Governing Council member Axel Weber said the ECB should extend its loose monetary stance, stoking worries about the euro zone economy. [ID:nLDE67J0IR]

Technical analysts said the next support was the 55-day moving average at $1.2679, followed by $1.2605, a 50 percent retracement of its rise from a four-year low of $1.1876 marked in June to its August peak of $1.3334.

Traders said the euro had been underpinned by strong demand from an Asian account around the day's low at $1.2683.

The euro slipped 0.3 percent to 108.47 yen EURJPY=R, near a seven-week low of 108.25 yen hit on EBS on Friday.

The dollar fell 0.2 percent to 85.35 yen JPY=, within striking distance of 84.72 yen hit earlier this month, its lowest since July 1995.

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan and Bank of Japan Governor Masaaki Shirakawa talked about the yen in a phone conversation on Monday and agreed to work closely, but offered few clues on whether further monetary easing was possible. [ID:nTOE67M02F]

AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR

The Australian dollar dropped after neither of the major parties in Australia won an overall majority in Saturday's election, leaving the country facing its first hung parliament in 70 years. [ID:nSGE67L021]

The Aussie hit a one-month low of $0.8833 in early Pacific trade in a knee-jerk reaction to the election but trimmed losses to trade back to flat at $0.8930, helped by buying from real-money accounts.

The currency received some help after Britain's Sunday Times reported that beverage giant SABMiller (SAB.L: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) (SABJ.J: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) was considering buying the beer operation of Australian brewer Foster's Group (FGL.AX: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) for about $10.9 billion. [ID:nSGE67L02A]

But a build-up of long positions left the Aussie delicately balanced.

"There are still risks for the Aussie from long positioning and its sensitivity to global economic data," HSBC's Mackel said.

(Graphic by Scott Barber; editing by Nigel Stephenson)

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