* Dollar index inches higher as debate over QE continues
* Market awaits a host of Fed speakers for clues on QE
* Euro cuts losses after above-forecast German ZEW survey
(Updates prices, adds reaction to German data)
By Anirban Nag
LONDON, Oct 19 (Reuters) - The dollar gained on a basket of currencies for a third straight session on Tuesday, backed by worries among some players that the monetary easing expected from the U.S. Federal Reserve next month is largely priced in.
The euro cut losses on relief that an influential German sentiment survey was not as bad as forecast, although it struggled to push into positive territory against the dollar.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner's comment that the United States would not engage in dollar devaluation and needed to work hard to preserve confidence in a strong dollar, also offered some support to the ailing greenback. [ID:nN18287076]
"Comments from Geithner and a reversal in short dollar positions is pushing it higher," said Gareth Berry, currency strategist at UBS, Singapore. "But this will not last too long with many waiting to see what the Fed will do next month." Investors have been selling the dollar for weeks on expectations the Federal Reserve will decide to pump more cash into the U.S. economy at its Nov. 2-3 meeting.
But currencies like the euro and the Australian dollar that had broken higher ground against the dollar are giving up some of those gains -- suggesting investors were taking a breather from a dollar sell-off for now.
But the market still has to wait and see how sizeable the QE will actually be. Until then, short-term players were simply flipping positions within tight ranges, traders said.
The dollar index .DXY firmed 0.45 percent to 77.26. Technical analysts say it needs to extend above its Oct. 12 high of 77.93 to signal a short-term bottom is in place after Friday's 10-month trough of 76.144.
A host of speakers from the Fed are due to speak on Tuesday. More and more policymakers are signing up for QE, so any indications how far the U.S. central bank will go to stimulate the economy could weigh on the dollar.
Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke is scheduled to give brief remarks while New York Fed President William Dudley, Chicago Fed chief Charles Evans, Atlanta Fed chief Dennis Lockhart, Minneapolis Fed President Narayana Kocherlakota and Dallas Fed President Richard Fisher are expected to speak later in the day.
Analysts said Geithner's comments on the U.S. dollar ahead of the G-20 meeting meant the United States was trying to work out an agreement with emerging economies like China which would ease the currency tensions that have marked the past few weeks.
"We are seeing the U.S. give up some ground as his comments indicate that QE may be a gradualist approach and Asian economies need not worry too much about a falling dollar," said Ian Stannard, senior currency strategist at BNP Paribas.
"A gradual approach to QE will have less impact on the dollar."
A number of Asian and emerging countries have stepped up intervention or imposed capital controls to stem a rapid appreciation in their currencies against the dollar which many feel can harm exports. [ID:nLDE69308R].
The euro EUR= was down 0.06 percent at $1.3938, off the day's low of $1.3886, but still below Friday's eight-month high. It bounced after Germany's ZEW institute said its economic sentiment index was at -7.2 in October, down from -4.3 in September but better than forecasts for -8.0. [ID:nLDE69I0WE].
The dollar edged up 0.2 percent against the yen to 81.39 yen JPY=, creeping further away from a 15-year low of 80.88 hit last week and a record low of 79.75 set in 1995.
Earlier in the day, there was talk of dollar selling by Japanese exporters at levels near 81.30 yen.
The Australian dollar AUD=D4 was flat at $0.9891, paring earlier losses after the Reserve Bank of Australia's minutes from its Oct. 5 meeting said the arguments to hold or hike rates were finely balanced.
For Aus GDP graphic link.reuters.com/syh88p
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^> (Editing by Catherine Evans)