* Apple leads Wall St lower as tax-bill vote looms
* Dollar regains footing on data
* Gold holds firm as dollar wilts
* U.S. yields rise on housing starts data before tax bill decision (Updates with open of U.S. markets; changes byline, dateline; previous LONDON)
By Laila Kearney
NEW YORK, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Global stock markets fell on Tuesday, with investors taking profits after recent highs in the tech sector before U.S. Republican lawmakers achieve their goal of passing tax reform legislation.
U.S. stocks have hit successive highs ahead of the tax reform bill, but the modest selling has crept into the market as most traders see the positive impact of cuts to corporate taxes already priced into the market.
In the currency markets, the U.S. dollar regained some footing after early losses, aided by upbeat U.S. housing data.
The House of Representatives will begin voting midday and a Senate decision could come as early as Tuesday night on what would be the biggest U.S. tax overhaul in more than 30 years.
“There’s still strong belief that it’s going to happen. But the market is not going to completely relax until they get done,” said Scott Brown, chief economist at Raymond James in St. Petersburg, Florida.
The plan would lower the corporate income tax rate to 21 percent from 35 percent, which analysts say would likely increase profits, buybacks and dividend payouts.
Despite growing optimism about the tax bill’s passage, a slump in technology stocks, led by Apple Inc, helped to drag markets down in early trading.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 40.56 points, or 0.16 percent, to 24,751.64, the S&P 500 lost 5.02 points, or 0.19 percent, to 2,685.14 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 29.85 points, or 0.43 percent, to 6,964.91.
Apple shares fell 1.23 percent after broker Instinet downgraded the stock to “neutral” from “buy” on doubts about iPhone X sales.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index lost 0.49 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.21 percent.
The U.S. dollar, which slipped on tax plan doubts on Monday, began to flatten on data that showed domestic home construction rose to a 13-month peak in November, with single-family home construction hitting a 10-year high.
The dollar index fell 0.05 percent. The euro was up 0.3 percent to $1.1816.
“We think FX markets are less fazed by the bill. Whether it will induce a material shift in investment and the balance of payments remains unclear,” said Mazen Issa, senior FX strategist at TD Securities in New York.
U.S. Treasury yields also rose and prices fell on the unexpectedly strong domestic housing data.
Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 16/32 in price to yield 2.45 percent, from 2.392 percent.
The 30-year bond last fell 40/32 in price to yield 2.8058 percent, from 2.744 percent.
Gold, which strengthens on the dollar’s weakening, held firm at $1,260 an ounce. Still, the precious metal is on track to post its narrowest trading range of any quarter in a decade in the last three months of the year.
Spot gold dropped 0.1 percent to $1,260.54 an ounce. U.S. gold futures fell 0.14 percent to $1,263.70 an ounce.
Copper rose 0.56 percent to $6,943.50 a tonne.
Oil was up slightly towards $64 a barrel, aided by an ongoing North Sea pipeline outage, supply cuts and expectations that U.S. crude inventories had fallen for a fifth week.
U.S. crude also rose 0.47 percent to $57.43 per barrel and Brent was last at $63.62, up 0.33 percent
Cryptocurrency Bitcoin meanwhile was 4-percent lower at $18,110 on the Bitstamp exchange having roared to its latest record high over the weekend.
Additional reporting by Marc Jones in London; Editing by Daniel Bases and Nick Zieminski