December 20, 2017 / 6:54 AM / a month ago

FOREX-Dollar firm on tax cut hopes, euro underpinned by rise in yields

* Dollar supported by tax overhaul hopes

* Yen awaits BOJ Kuroda’s news conference on Thursday

* Euro underpinned by rise in euro zone debt yields (Updates prices, adds U.S. Senate approval of tax legislation)

By Hideyuki Sano and Masayuki Kitano

TOKYO/SINGAPORE, Dec 20 (Reuters) - The dollar was supported on Wednesday by expectations that the Trump administration’s tax reforms would pass through congress while the euro was underpinned by a sharp rise in German bond yields.

The Republican-led U.S. Senate approved sweeping tax legislation in the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday, sending the tax cut package back to the House of Representatives for a final vote later in the day.

The dollar briefly extended its gains against the yen and touched an intraday high of 113.075 yen following the news of the Senate’s approval, but reaction was muted overall.

The dollar last stood at 113.01 yen, up 0.1 percent on the day, having pulled away from Friday’s low of 112.035, with last week’s high of 113.75 seen as its next target.

The House of Representatives had already approved the biggest U.S. tax overhaul in 30 years on Tuesday, but another House vote is needed because of procedural issues.

Gains in the dollar were limited as many market players looked to the Bank of Japan’s two-day policy meeting ending on Thursday for clues to whether the BOJ will join the U.S. Federal Reserve and European central banks in winding back stimulus.

A speech by BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda in November sparked speculation of a stimulus taper when he mentioned the concept of a ‘reversal rate’ - a level at which low interest rates start to have more harmful side-effects than benefits.

“There is very strong interest in the ‘reversal rate’. Kuroda’s news conference (when the BOJ meeting ends) will be pretty much all about just that,” said Yukio Ishizuki, senior strategist at Daiwa Securities.

Uncertainty over the BOJ’s intentions is a major reason the yen did not slip much despite the sharp rise in U.S. bond yields the previous day, Ishizuki noted.

The BOJ is widely expected at this week’s meeting to keep its short-term interest rate target at minus 0.1 percent and pledge to guide 10-year bond yields around zero percent.

But Peter Dragicevich, G10 FX strategist for Nomura in Singapore, said, if anything, Kuroda may try to push back against some of the interpretations related to the issue of the ‘reversal rate’.

“We think he will probably give the market a bit of a reality check. So we’re not expecting him to increase market expectations of any type of policy normalisation,” Dragicevich said.

The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield stood at 2.455 percent in Wednesday’s Asian trade. On Tuesday, it had set a seven-week high of 2.472 percent, nearing a seven-month peak of 2.477 percent hit in late October.

The surge was driven in part by expectations of tax reforms raising U.S. bond issuance, but many analysts said the immediate trigger was a jump in European bond yields on Tuesday after Germany unveiled a plan to issue more 30-year debt next year.

Higher euro zone yields underpinned the euro, which held steady at $1.1835, after rising 0.5 percent on Tuesday.

Against the yen, the euro stood at 133.74 yen, not far from strong resistance levels around 134.50. (Reporting by Hideyuki Sano and Masayuki Kitano; Editing by Eric Meijer and Jacqueline Wong)

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