April 5, 2012 / 3:47 AM / 5 years ago

FOREX-Euro, Aussie nurse losses after sell-off, still vulnerable

* Poor Spanish bond auction spooks markets

* The Fed's less dovish stance weighs on risk currencies

* HSBC's China services PMI report has little impact

By Antoni Slodkowski and Ian Chua

TOKYO/SYDNEY, April 5 (Reuters) - The euro hovered within shouting distance of a three-week trough on the yen and the dollar on Thursday, while commodity currencies nursed heavy losses after a poor Spanish bond auction reignited jitters about the euro zone debt crisis.

The risk currencies have weakened against the dollar, which climbed broadly after Fed policy meeting minutes released on Tuesday showed the bank was becoming less eager to print more money to bolster the economy.

The euro, which dropped nearly 1 percent towards $1.3100 on Wednesday, last stood at $1.3150, up 0.1 percent on the day. Immediate support for the currency looms around $1.3094, the 76.4 percent retracement of the mid-to-late March rise.

"The weaker Spanish auctions on Wednesday provide a reminder that markets are not convinced that peripheral stress has completely abated," BNP Paribas wrote in a client note.

Traders worry that the rally in debt of euro-zone peripheral nations sparked by the European Central Bank's two Long-Term Refinancing Operations may be coming to a screeching halt.

The yield on Spain's 10-year bond leaped to 5.7 percent, its highest since January. This overshadowed a successful step back into debt markets by similarly highly indebted Portugal.

"Thus, with concerns over Spain peaking through and political risk ever more apparent with the upcoming French and Greek elections ahead, we reiterate our EURUSD forecast of 1.28 by end of Q2," BNP Paribas said.

The euro has failed to clear $1.3400 and the market now seems keen to first test the floor of a two-month range around $1.3000. Against the yen, the euro was at 108.10, not far off an overnight trough around 107.90.

STRONGER DOLLAR

The dollar index, tracking the greenback's performance against major currencies, remained close to a two-week high of 79.922 but had given back a bit of ground to 79.645.

That kept the Aussie near a three-month low of $1.0243 plumbed on Wednesday. It showed a muted reaction to data showing China's services sector expanded solidly in March and business confidence hit an 11-month high..

The Aussie last fetched $1.0284, with a 0.8 percent gain by the Shanghai stock market helping it to hold above support at $1.0263, the 50 percent retracement of the November-February rally.

The Aussie was knocked from its February high of $1.0857 to the previous session's nadir by a soft patch of local data, fears about a hard landing in China and expectations for a rate cut next month.

The dollar weakened against the yen, falling 0.3 percent to 82.20 yen as traders trimmed their short yen positions ahead of the Easter holidays and the all-important U.S. jobs data on Friday.

There is now a growing feeling among investors that at least some of the recent economic improvement in the United States may have been due to the mild winter and traders are turning cautious ahead of second-quarter economic data.

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