* Euro skids after ECB prolongs its bond buying
* Investors continue to focus on next Fed chief
By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO, Oct 27 (Reuters) - The dollar stood tall on Friday, on track for weekly gains, while the euro slumped to three-month lows after the European Central Bank extended its bond purchases and reduced the chances that it would hike interest rates in 2018.
The ECB prolonged its bond buying programme by nine months to September 2018, and left the door open to keep buying after that. It said it would begin paring its monthly purchases by half to 30 billion euros ($34.90 billion) starting in January.
ECB chief Mario Draghi said “an ample degree of monetary stimulus remains necessary”, as inflation has yet to show signs of a sustained upward trend.
The euro was 0.1-percent lower at $1.1631, its lowest level since July 26. It was down 1.3 percent for the week.
“The concept of tapering would be removal of accommodation, so it wasn’t exactly what the market was expecting - it was a dovish form of tapering, as there was both an extension and a reduction,” said Bill Northey, chief investment officer at the private client group of U.S. Bank in Helena, Montana.
The ECB’s extension pushes “any potential rate hike to 2019”, he said.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of six major rivals, added 0.2 percent to 94.769, trading at three-month highs and on track for a robust weekly gain of 1.1 percent.
Also underpinning the dollar, the U.S. House of Representatives voted on Thursday to clear a procedural path forward for a Republican tax bill.
“We did see some additional progress toward tax cuts,” Northey said. “As we move into 2018, the likelihood that something will pass increases.”
Investor attention remains on candidates to head the U.S. Federal Reserve when current chief Janet Yellen’s term expires in February.
Trump’s search for the next central bank chair has come down to Fed Governor Jerome Powell and Stanford University economist John Taylor, Politico on Thursday cited one source as saying, while another counselled caution. But a White House official told Reuters that no final decision has been made.
Trump is expected to announce his candidate before his upcoming trip to Asia in early November.
The dollar gained 0.1 percent to 114.12 yen, within sight of this week’s three-month high of 114.245 touched on Wednesday. It was up 0.5 percent for the week.
Japan’s core consumer prices rose 0.7 percent in September from a year earlier to mark a ninth straight rising month, offering the central bank some hope that economic recovery is helping to drive inflation towards its 2 percent target.
The data will be among factors the Bank of Japan will scrutinise when it updates its long-term growth and price projections at next week’s rate review.
Sterling slipped 0.3 percent to $1.3128,with investors focused on whether the Bank of England will proceed with its first interest rate increase in over a decade after its next meting on Nov. 2. ($1 = 0.8597 euros) (Reporting by Lisa Twaronite; Editing by Joseph Radford)