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Dollar advances ahead of U.S. jobs report; bitcoin nears $16,000

FILE PHOTO: Bitcoin (virtual currency) coins placed on Dollar banknotes are seen in this illustration picture, November 6, 2017. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

By Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The dollar rose to a two-week high against a basket of major currencies on Thursday, on stronger risk appetite across markets and optimism the United States will successfully push through a tax reform program.

The greenback also gained against the yen, hitting a three-week high. It slipped against the safe-haven currency on Wednesday after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a move that imperiled Middle East peace efforts and provoked widespread condemnation.

But as global stock prices edged higher on Thursday after three days of losses, investors bought back the dollar, which gained 0.7 percent on the day at 113.09 yen .

Markets are now focused on Friday's U.S. non-farm payrolls report, with investors looking at 200,000 new jobs for November, according to a Reuters poll.

"Friday's jobs data is unlikely to make a very large impact on the Federal Reserve's December decision or the U.S. dollar unless there is a substantially negative deviation from expectations," said James Chen, head of research at in Bedminster, New Jersey.

"Any major disappointment in the jobs data has the potential to adversely affect the Fed's rate decision next week and into 2018, in which case the dollar could take a substantial hit."Against a basket of currencies, the dollar (.DXY) hit a two-week high of 93.745. It was last up 0.2 percent at 93.773.

U.S. Senate Republicans agreed to talks with the House of Representatives on sweeping tax legislation on Wednesday, amid early signs lawmakers could bridge their differences and agree on a final bill ahead of a self-imposed Dec. 22 deadline.

"Passage of U.S. tax reform is the main upside risk to economic growth, with far-reaching effects," wrote BofA Merrill Lynch analysts in a 2018 outlook.

Most investors see the tax reform as a pro-growth policy that should support the dollar, but not all analysts agree it would be straightforwardly dollar-positive.

"The corporate tax reform has the potential to have a significantly positive effect on the greenback, but due to other parts of the reform - those that are aimed at preventing tax base erosion," wrote Commerzbank currency strategists in a note to clients.

The euro slipped to a two-week low of $1.1773 against a stronger dollar. It was last down 0.2 percent on the day at $1.1776.

Bitcoin soared to a record high of just shy of $16,000 on the Bitstamp exchange, continuing a surge from less than $1,000 at the beginning of the year. It was last up 11.8 percent at $15,283.70 after rising as high as $15,995.

(Reporting by Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss; Additional reporting by Jemima Kelly in London; Editing by Susan Thomas and Lisa Shumaker)