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FOREX-Dollar hampered by uncertainty over U.S. tax reforms
November 9, 2017 / 4:54 AM / a month ago

FOREX-Dollar hampered by uncertainty over U.S. tax reforms

* Dollar steady vs basket of major currencies

* But uncertainty over U.S. tax reforms clouds outlook

* RBNZ keeps rates steady, but points to faster inflation

* Kiwi hits 2-week high as RBNZ outlook taken as hawkish (Updates prices, adds comments)

By Masayuki Kitano

SINGAPORE, Nov 9 (Reuters) - The dollar held steady versus a basket of currencies on Thursday, but its near-term outlook was seen clouded by worries over possible delays to U.S. President Donald Trump’s tax reform plans.

The dollar last stood at 94.903 versus a basket of six major currencies, staying below a three-month high of 95.150 set in late October.

The New Zealand dollar touched a two-week high after comments from the country’s central bank on the inflation outlook were taken as hawkish, even as it kept interest rates unchanged as expected.

The New Zealand dollar rose to as high as $0.6974 in early Asian trade on Thursday, its highest level since Oct. 24. It later came off that peak and was last trading at $0.6955.

The Reserve Bank of New Zealand said fiscal stimulus from a new Labour-led government and a weaker currency would lead to faster inflation. It projected a possible rise in interest rates for the second quarter of 2019, three months earlier than previously expected.

Analysts said the broader market focus was on the fate of the Trump administration’s tax reform plans.

A U.S. Senate tax-cut bill, differing from one in the House of Representatives, was expected to be unveiled on Thursday, complicating a Republican tax overhaul push and increasing scepticism on Wall Street about the effort.

Any potential delay in the implementation of tax cuts, or the possibility of proposed reforms being watered down, would tend to work against the U.S. currency, analysts said.

“There’s very much a risk of disappointment,” said Steven Dooley, currency strategist for Western Union Business Solutions in Melbourne.

“The U.S. dollar could go through a weakening phase on the back of uncertainty around that tax reform,” Dooley said, referring to the near-term outlook.

Against the yen, the dollar edged up 0.1 percent to 113.98 yen, but remained below an eight-month high of 114.735 yen set on Monday.

Positive risk sentiment is helping to support the dollar against the yen, even as a recent pullback in the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield limits the dollar’s upside potential, said Masashi Murata, currency strategist for Brown Brothers Harriman in Tokyo.

The dollar will probably trade in a range of 112 yen to 115 yen for a while, Murata added.

The U.S. 10-year Treasury yield stood at 2.329 percent on Thursday, having retreated from a seven-month high of 2.477 percent set in late October.

In the stock market, MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan touched a decade high on Thursday, while Japan’s Nikkei share average rose above the 23,000 level for the first time since January 1992.

Such gains in equities can bolster investors’ appetite for riskier assets and weigh on the yen, a low-yielding currency that is often used to fund investment in higher-yielding assets.

The euro held steady at $1.1592, staying above a low of $1.1553 set on Tuesday, which was the euro’s lowest level since July 20.

The dollar has been supported recently, partly due to expectations for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in December for a third time this year and for further Fed policy tightening next year. (Reporting by Masayuki Kitano; Editing by Sam Holmes and Gopakumar Warrier)

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