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Monday March 15, 2010 - 20:52:20 GMT
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FOREX NEWS-Euro falls vs dollar on persistent Greek worries

4:21pm EDT

* Eurogroup ministers discuss Greek aid options

* Chinese tightening fears, premier comment weigh on risk

* Investors cautious ahead of Fed, BoJ meetings

* Euro hits more than 16-month low vs Swiss franc (Updates prices, adds quote)

By Wanfeng Zhou

NEW YORK, March 15 (Reuters) - The euro fell against the dollar on Monday, weighed down by a lack of concrete progress on a financial aid package for debt-strapped Greece.

Concerns about further tightening by Chinese monetary authorities also stoked worries about the strength of a global recovery, denting investors' appetite for risk and driving higher-yielding currencies such as the Australian dollar lower.

The European Commission said on Monday it was ready to propose a framework that could be used to aid Greece, but France and Germany continued to show reluctance to make concrete commitments. For more see [ID:nLDE62E0NZ].

"The Greek debt crisis will continue to hang over the euro like the Sword of Damocles," said Chris Gaffney, vice president at EverBank World Markets in St. Louis, Missouri.

"Only time will tell if the Greeks will be successful in their efforts to refinance their debts," he added. "Until some other event or crisis draws (currency speculators') attention, the euro will continue to be fairly volatile."

In late trading, the euro <EUR=> was down 0.6 percent at $1.3673, retreating from a four-week high just shy of $1.3800 hit on Friday.

Traders said there were reports in the market of large option-related sell orders on the approach to $1.3800, limiting any upside momentum on the euro.

The ICE Futures' dollar index <.DXY> traded up 0.5 percent against a basket of currencies at 80.221 as weakness in global stock markets boosted demand for the safe-haven greenback.

Comments by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Sunday, who rejected calls by the international community to revalue the yuan, saying the country's currency is not undervalued, unsettled the market, analysts said. [ID:nTOE62D001]

Further weighing on sentiment was a report from Moody's that the credit ratings of the United States, UK, France, Germany and Spain were safe but risks to their top-notch status had grown. [ID:nLDE62B1T5]


Investors remained cautious ahead of monetary policy meetings by the Federal Reserve and Bank of Japan this week.

The U.S. central bank is expected to reiterate its pledge to keep interest rates very low for an "extended period" at the end of its meeting on Tuesday, but market participants will closely watch the number of dissenters.

Kansas City Fed President Thomas Hoenig dissented at the Fed's last meeting, saying conditions had improved sufficiently to warrant dropping the "extended period" phrase.

"There's clearly a growing debate within the Fed as to how long that language should be maintained," said Fergal Smith, managing market strategist, Canada at Action Economics in Toronto. If another Fed official dissented or the accompanying statement showed a "more hawkish or less dovish" slant, the dollar could benefit, he added.

Against the yen <JPY=>, the dollar was little changed at 90.48 yen.

Sterling was the day's biggest mover, falling 0.9 percent against the dollar <GBP=D4> to $1.5052 after hitting a session low of $1.5019 on worries about a weak UK economy and uncertainty ahead of a general election expected in May. [GBP/]

The Bank of Japan starts a two-day meeting on Tuesday at which, sources said, it is leaning towards easing monetary policy again. [ID:nTOE62A08Z]

The euro also hit a low of 1.4509 Swiss francs <EURCHF=>, according to Reuters data, its weakest level in more than 16 months. It was last at 1.4521 francs, down 0.3 percent. (Additional reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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