FOREX-Euro steadies after dip on Portuguese bank nerves

Reuters

* Euro steadies after half-cent drop, yen higher overnight

* Little sign of sharp equity sell-off passing through yet

* Stock market tensions fuel arguments for change in trend (Updates prices, adds more comment)

By Patrick Graham

LONDON, July 11 (Reuters) - Major currency markets were steady in Europe on Friday, having ridden out a day of ructions on European stock markets with only minimal moves on the euro and yen.

Strategists were sceptical of whether concerns about Portuguese bank BES would prove the trigger for an immediate change in market tone away from the steady, low volatility plays of the past six months.

But Thursday's 4 percent slide in Lisbon shares and the losses it brought with it for other European banks supported those who have been warning for the past month or so that there is a bubble in stock and some bond prices that may soon burst.

The main currency candidate to suffer from any such move would be the euro, which has benefited from a flood of money into markets in the euro zone's indebted southern half over the past year.

"I don't think you can look at BES and say it's the start of something, but it is a symptom of what seems to be happening," said Simon Derrick, head of global FX strategy with Bank of New York Mellon in London.

"All of the reasons for owning the euro over the past year are steadily being taken away. That doesn't mean euro-dollar is going to shift straight away but it does look increasingly likely that a move is in the pipeline."

The euro fell half a cent against the dollar on Thursday - a very ordinary daily move. It was flat at $1.3605 by midday in Europe on Friday.

The yen was poised to end the week almost 1 percent higher against the dollar, having jumped to a five-month peak against the euro overnight on the sell-off in global equities.

While some of Thursday's currency losers were recovering, the Swiss franc - another traditional safe haven for capital in times of stress - held onto its gains at 1.2145 euros.

"Some of the classic risk-off trades are looking attractive," said Graham Davidson, a spot trader with NAB in London.

"My feeling is another crisis is not going to happen but we will see a good solid correction. My favourite trade at the moment is the euro against the yen. Sterling and the euro should be the main losers."

The euro last traded at 137.80 yen, having fallen as far as 137.50, its lowest since early February.

The dollar was at 101.35 yen after touching a seven-week low of 101.06.

(Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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