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UPDATE 1-Speculators raise U.S. dollar net shorts to largest since October -CFTC, Reuters

-CFTC, Reuters@ (Adds details, table, analyst comment, byline) NEW YORK, March 16 (Reuters) - Speculators' net short U.S. dollar bets rose to a five-month high this week, according to calculations by Reuters and Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released on Friday. The value of the net short dollar position was $14.61 billion in the week to March 13, compared with $11.46 billion the previous week. Net short positioning on the greenback has increased for a third straight week. U.S. dollar positioning was derived from net contracts of International Monetary Market speculators in the yen, euro, British pound, Swiss franc and Canadian and Australian dollars. In a wider measure of dollar positioning that includes net contracts on the New Zealand dollar, Mexican peso, Brazilian real and Russian rouble, the U.S. dollar posted a net short position valued at $17.29 billion, up from $14.51 billion the week before. The dollar has been under pressure over the last two weeks due to fears about trade protectionism with the imposition of U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum. Departures of key members of U.S. President Donald Trump's cabinet also weighed on the dollar given the uncertain political outlook. "The unprecedented turnover at the highest levels of the administration has not only fanned worries about the instability and unpredictability of this government but has also raised concerns that there are now fewer checks against the protectionist leanings of the president," said Omer Esiner, chief market analyst at Commonwealth Foreign Exchange. So far this year, the dollar has fallen 2 percent against a basket of six major currencies, following a 10 percent loss in 2017. Meanwhile, speculators' net short position on bitcoin Cboe futures rose to 1,716 contracts in the latest week, from 1,599 the previous week, the data showed. Bitcoin has lost nearly 40 percent of its value so far this year, hurt by increased scrutiny from regulators around the world led by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Other cryptocurrencies have tumbled in value as well. Bitcoin on Friday was last up 3.1 percent at $8,522.79 on the Luxembourg-based exchange Bitstamp.

Japanese Yen (Contracts of 12,500,000 yen) $9.33 billion

13 Mar 2018 Prior week

week

Long 44,296 50,057 Short 123,835 136,902 Net -79,539 -86,845

EURO (Contracts of 125,000 euros) $-22.669 billion

13 Mar 2018 Prior week

week

Long 239,453 227,354 Short 93,073 94,382 Net 146,380 132,972

POUND STERLING (Contracts of 62,500 pounds sterling) $-0.7 billion

13 Mar 2018 Prior week

week

Long 67,190 61,368 Short 59,163 56,104 Net 8,027 5,264

SWISS FRANC (Contracts of 125,000 Swiss francs) $0.87 billion

13 Mar 2018 Prior week

week

Long 17,190 17,945 Short 23,762 26,422 Net -6,572 -8,477

CANADIAN DOLLAR (Contracts of 100,000 Canadian dollars) $-1.498 billion

13 Mar 2018 Prior week

week

Long 59,919 54,233 Short 40,499 34,668 Net 19,420 19,565

AUSTRALIAN DOLLAR (Contracts of 100,000 Aussie dollars) $0.061 billion

13 Mar 2018 Prior week

week

Long 38,366 47,469 Short 39,145 44,334 Net -779 3,135

MEXICAN PESO (Contracts of 500,000 pesos) $-2.337 billion

13 Mar 2018 Prior week

week

Long 113,977 114,143 Short 27,037 30,848 Net 86,940 83,295

NEW ZEALAND DOLLAR (Contracts of 100,000 New Zealand dollars) $0.206 billion

13 Mar 2018 Prior week

week

Long 34,689 33,091 Short 37,505 33,061 Net -2,816 30

(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; editing by Diane Craft and James Dalgleish)