* Euro hits fresh 10-month high after Draghi’s upbeat comments
* ECB chief opens door to policy tweak as economy recovers
* Vote on U.S. healthcare legislation delayed
* Dollar index touches its lowest in more than 7 months (Updates prices, adds comments)
By Masayuki Kitano
SINGAPORE, June 28 (Reuters) - The euro hit a 10-month high on Wednesday after the European Central Bank chief hinted the days of the ECB’s aggressive stimulus are numbered, and as the dollar was pressured after a vote on U.S. healthcare legislation was delayed.
The euro edged up 0.1 percent to $1.1345, having hit a high of around $1.1355 earlier on Wednesday, its strongest level since August 2016. The common currency has gained 1.4 percent this week.
The euro’s rally came after ECB President Mario Draghi said at a conference in Portugal on Tuesday that deflationary forces had been replaced by reflationary ones.
But any change in the ECB’s stance should be gradual as “considerable” monetary support is still needed and the rebound in inflation will also depend on favourable global financing conditions, he added.
Traders said the euro could add to its gains in the near term.
“With the hawkish tone of Draghi, we should see European rates moving higher, especially on the 10-year part of the curve, and I think the euro has more room to move higher,” said Tareck Horchani, head of sales trading for Asia-Pacific for Saxo Bank Group in Singapore.
The euro now faces resistance at $1.14, and could get a further boost if that level is breached, Horchani said.
Against the yen, the euro eased 0.1 percent to 127.23 yen . The euro had touched a high of around 127.47 yen on Tuesday, its strongest level since April 2016.
Draghi’s comments were taken as pointing to the possibility that the ECB may announce a tapering of its massive bond purchases in coming months, possibly as early as September, said Sim Moh Siong, FX strategist for Bank of Singapore.
At the same time, the ECB probably won’t want to see the euro rise too rapidly, he said.
“There could be a push-back if the euro is perceived to have strengthened in a manner that is too fast for the ECB’s liking,” Sim said, adding that the ECB might highlight the risk that the euro’s rise could exert downside pressure on inflation.
The dollar remained on the defensive after U.S. Senate Republican leaders postponed a vote on a healthcare overhaul on Tuesday, as they faced resistance from party members.
Market participants are concerned that the Trump administration will find it hard to follow through with tax cuts and fiscal stimulus steps, without first getting the healthcare bill passed.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of six major currencies, slipped to 96.322 at one point on Wednesday, its lowest level in more than seven months. It last stood at 96.385.
Against the yen, the dollar eased about 0.2 percent to 112.15 yen.
The dollar had risen to levels around 112.46 yen on Tuesday, its strongest level in more than a month, as U.S. bond yields edged higher in sympathy with a rise in European bond yields. (Reporting by Masayuki Kitano in SINGAPORE; Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Richard Borsuk)