Dollar Gains In Asia As US Tax Cuts On Track, CME Bitcoin Futures Launch

Dollar Gains In Asia As US Tax Cuts On Track, CME Bitcoin Futures Launch
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(December 17, 2017)  The dollar gained against the yen in Asia on Monday as US tax cuts look set for legislative passage this week and investors watched the launch of bitcoin futures on the CME cross $20,000 in initial trade.

USD/JPY changed hands at 112.75, up 0.13%, while AUD/USD traded at 0.7641, down 0.07%.

Japan reported its trade balance for November came in at a surplus of ¥113 billion, compared with a ¥55 billion deficit expected. Later China reports house pries for November with a 5.4% gain the previous month.

The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback’s strength against a trade-weighted basket of six major currencies, was last quoted flat at 93.46.

This week, the final reading of third-quarter U.S. growth will be the main focus for global financial markets, as investors begin to wind down trading activity before the Christmas and New Year holidays.

In the U.K., market players will be looking ahead to a final reading on British growth data for further indications on the continued effect that the Brexit decision is having on the economy.

Investors will also keep an eye out on survey data on German business confidence to gauge sentiment in the euro zone’s largest economy.

Elsewhere, traders will pay close attention to a monetary policy decision due in Japan amid speculation the Bank of Japan will lag well behind major global central banks in dialing back its massive stimulus program.

Last week, the dollar was higher against a basket of the other major currencies on Friday, amid growing investor optimism surrounding U.S. tax reform, following reports that Republicans secured enough votes for the bill passage.

Representative Kevin Brady, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, told reporters that Republicans on the House-Senate negotiating committee working on the revamped bill had signed the finished product. It comes after two Republicans sought changes to the proposed legislation.

The House was expected to vote on the bill on Tuesday. Some investors expect that the tax overhaul may boost U.S. growth, leading to more interest rate hikes and a higher dollar.

Despite Friday’s gains, the greenback tallied a small weekly loss after the Federal Reserve raised interest rates for a third time this year, as widely expected, and indicated that it would stay on a similar path next year, disappointing some who had speculated the U.S. central bank could raise its interest rate projection for next year to four rate hikes.

The central bank also said it expected inflation to remain below its target for another year, tempering expectations for an accelerated pace of rate hikes.

The European Central Bank kept its key rates on hold on Thursday and stuck to its pledge to provide stimulus for as long as needed, predicting inflation would remain below target into 2020.

Elsewhere, the pound fell against both the dollar and the euro as Brexit negotiations remained on the forefront after British Prime Minister Theresa May secured agreement from the European Union to move on from discussing the divorce terms to mapping out a plan for the future trade relationship.

On Thursday, the Bank of England voted unanimously to keep rates at 0.5%, as expected, as policymakers grapple with uncertainty over Brexit, low wage growth and weak productivity, which are all weighing on the economy.

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