* BOJ keeps policy steady as expected
* Comments from BOJ’s Kuroda contain no surprises
* Dollar supported vs yen after tax bill passed
* Graphic: World FX rates in 2017 tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh
By Jemima Kelly
LONDON, Dec 21 (Reuters) - The dollar hit a nine-day high against the yen on Thursday, after comments by Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda reinforced expectations that the BOJ was in no hurry to move away from its ultra-loose monetary policy.
Some investors had expected hints that policy might be coming to an end and that the BOJ’s yield target for Japanese government bonds might be raised, after a recent speech by Kuroda that referred to the negative effects of ultra-expansionary monetary policy.
But speaking after the BOJ kept interest rates steady as widely expected, Kuroda said his earlier reference to a “reversal rate” did not indicate a change in his thinking on monetary policy.
Kuroda also said the BOJ would continue patiently with monetary easing as inflation was still well off its 2 percent target and that he did not see a need to review the BOJ’s yield curve control policy.
The dollar rose 0.2 percent to 113.635 yen in an otherwise Christmas-thinned market, having traded around 113.40 yen ahead of Kuroda’s news conference.
“Kuroda completely stuck to his guns on maintaining current policy, despite recent tantalising hints that the central bank may be losing faith in the efficacy of its policy mix,” said Saxo Bank currency strategist John Hardy.
“The yen is...likely to track bonds lower as long as they are under pressure, and the situation gets more interesting once the 10-year Japanese government bond bumps up against the BoJ’s supposed cap around 10-11 basis points,” he added.
Japan’s 10-year government bond yield reached as high as 7 basis points on Thursday.
The greenback has gained 0.8 percent against the yen so far this week, and a rise beyond last week’s high of 113.75 yen would send it to its highest point in more than a month.
“Dollar/yen will probably continue to take cues from moves in U.S. Treasuries,” said Satoshi Okagawa, senior global markets analyst for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation in Singapore.
The dollar could edge higher versus the yen if the U.S. 10-year yield rises further after it set nine-month highs this week, Okagawa added.
The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives gave final approval on Wednesday to the biggest overhaul of the U.S. tax code in 30 years, sending a sweeping bill to President Donald Trump to sign.
Analysts said the dollar was supported against the yen after the U.S. 10-year Treasury yield rose to a nine-month high on Wednesday as investors worried the U.S. tax overhaul could lead to higher U.S. debt, increased bond issuance and more aggressive rate hikes by the Fed.
The dollar edged up 0.1 percent against a basket of major currencies.
The euro held steady at $1.1867, having gained around 1 percent so far this week, supported by a rise in German bond yields. (Reporting by Jemima Kelly; Additional reporting by Masayuki Kitano in Singapore; Editing by Alison Williams/Keith Weir)