September 29, 2017 / 5:36 AM / 10 months ago

FOREX-Dollar set for best weekly gain in 2017; focus on Trump tax plan, Fed outlook

* Dollar index down from Thursday’s near 6-week high

* For the week, dollar index on track for 1.1 pct gain

* U.S. tax reform hopes, Fed rate hike bets have lifted dlr

* Near-term focus on U.S. economic data (Updates prices, adds comments)

By Masayuki Kitano

SINGAPORE, Sept 29 (Reuters) - The dollar inched higher against a basket of major currencies on Friday and was on track for its biggest weekly gain so far this year as investors pondered the Trump administration’s tax plan and the outlook for Federal Reserve policy.

The dollar index edged up 0.1 percent to 93.211.

While that was down from Thursday’s near six-week high of 93.666, the index has still risen 1.1 percent this week, putting it on track for its biggest weekly gain since December.

The dollar has risen on renewed hopes for U.S. tax reform, as well as comments from Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen that stressed the need for gradual interest rate hikes.

Profit-taking and caution about political hurdles facing the U.S. tax plan seem to be tempering the dollar’s momentum, said Stephen Innes, head of trading in Asia-Pacific for Oanda in Singapore.

“We’ve been down this tax reform road before, and I don’t think it’s going to be easy... There’s going to be a lot of back and forth, a lot of squabbling,” Innes said.

The White House struggled on Thursday to defend its new tax plan against criticism that it would help the rich at the expense of lower classes, as Republicans in Congress prepared to move ahead with actual legislation.

President Donald Trump had unveiled a plan on Wednesday that calls for lower tax rates for businesses and individuals as part of a comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. tax code.

Against the yen, the dollar edged up 0.3 percent to 112.66 yen. On Wednesday, the dollar had reached a 2-1/2 month high of 113.26 yen, buoyed by a rise in U.S. bond yields.

Later on Friday, investors will turn their focus to U.S. economic data, including the personal consumption expenditures (PCE) price index for August.

One focus for next week is U.S. job data due on Oct. 6.

“The immediate focus would be whether the market can look through the data volatility in the U.S.,” said Sim Moh Siong, FX strategist for Bank of Singapore, adding that the nonfarm payroll data is likely to reflect the effects from Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

The euro eased 0.1 percent to $1.1777, but remained above Wednesday’s trough of $1.1717, the common currency’s lowest level in more than a month.

The common currency has rallied nearly 12 percent against the dollar so far this year as worries about the rise of anti-establishment political forces in Europe faded while expectations rose for tapering the European Central Bank’s stimulus.

The euro, however, has been weighed down this week after the results of elections in Germany on Sunday. Chancellor Angela Merkel won a fourth term in office but will have to build an uneasy coalition to form a government.

Sterling eased 0.2 percent to $1.3418.

On Thursday, it had gained 0.4 percent, after Britain’s Brexit secretary said “considerable progress” had been made in talks and the EU’s chief negotiator praised a “new dynamic” from the prime minister. (Reporting by Masayuki Kitano; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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