* Euro nurses more losses after ECB spurs rate cut expectations
* European analysts unconvinced weakness here to stay
* Dollar/yen hovers above 3-week low; down 0.5 pct for the week
* Australian dollar slips back from 3-week high (New throughout, changes dateline from TOKYO)
By Patrick Graham
LONDON, May 9 (Reuters) - The euro fell another third of a percent against the dollar on Friday after strong words from European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi a day earlier that halted its march to a 2-1/2 year high.
Draghi said after the bank’s policy meeting on Thursday that the euro’s strength was “a serious concern” and that the ECB was “comfortable” with taking more action to support growth and raise inflation at its June meeting.
That sent the single currency sharply lower and continued to dominate trade on Friday. By 1129 GMT the euro was down 0.4 percent on the day at $1.3785, a full two cents below the highs hit as Draghi began speaking on Thursday.
Still, many strategists and traders in London and Frankfurt cast doubt on whether the ECB chief’s comments were enough to put a definitive end to the trend for a stronger euro that has dominated major currency markets so far this year.
“It seems the market this morning is still pretty impressed by what Draghi said yesterday and some more people have jumped on that trade,” said Lutz Karpowitz, a currency strategist with Commerzbank in Frankfurt.
“For me it is not a game changer. As long as quantitative easing continues in the U.S., we expect the dollar to remain under pressure. I would expect the euro to trade higher against the dollar next week.”
Neil Mellor, a strategist with Bank of New York Mellon in London, argued that the shopping list of factors that have driven the euro higher were all still in place: a high current account surplus, banks repatriating cash ahead of this year’s asset review, a return of cash to southern euro zone government bond markets and the weakening of China’s yuan and resulting sales of dollars for euros by Beijing.
While the market believes in Draghi’s threat of action next month, many say that a small cut in interest rates and any further steps to bolster the number of euros coursing through the European banking sector would not be enough to weaken the currency.
No-one believes the bank is ready to launch the sort of full-scale money-printing used by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the Bank of England and others.
“Draghi’s comments have possibly changed the situation for a while but I‘m not sure it has changed the broader picture,” Mellor said. “I would not be very surprised if come the end of next week the euro was taking another pop at the $1.40 level.”
If the euro’s strength has been this year’s big surprise for markets, then it is largely in the context of the dollar’s failure to make good on the raft of calls in January for it to strengthen.
Against the yen the dollar was little changed at 101.70 yen , still not far from a three-week low of 101.43 yen set on Wednesday. Likewise, sterling held steady at $1.6926 within striking distance of $1.70 - a level it has not broken since August 2009.
For the week, the greenback is down 0.5 percent against the yen, weighed down by persistently dovish comments from the Federal Reserve and low U.S. Treasury yields.
“If you ask whether dollar/yen is going to head higher or lower, I think downside risks are increasing,” said Satoshi Okagawa, senior global markets analyst for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in Singapore, adding that the greenback could head gradually lower against the yen.
The crisis in Ukraine has also supported the safe-haven yen currency and the market will an eye on a May 11 separatist referendum.
Pro-Russian separatists voted unanimously on Thursday in favour of holding a referendum on independence, defying calls by Russian President Vladimir Putin to postpone the vote to open the way for talks with the Kiev authorities. (Additional reporting by Masayuki Kitano in Singapore and Shinichi Saoshiro in Tokyo; editing by Susan Thomas)