Tax Bill Injects Calm Into Markets -- 2nd Update

By Riva Gold and Kenan MachadoFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

U.S. stock futures rise after Senate passes tax bill

-- Bitcoin prices fall sharply

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-- Treasury yields steady at nine-month high

World stock markets were calm Wednesday in anticipation of the largest structural overhaul of the U.S. tax system in three decades.

The Stoxx Europe 600 was flat in the early minutes of trading, echoing a muted session in Asia. Futures pointed to a 0.3% opening gain for the S&P 500, on track to reverse Tuesday's loss.

The Senate passed a sweeping tax bill early Wednesday, but a last-minute glitch forced Republican leaders to schedule another vote in the House later on Wednesday morning. The result isn't likely to be any different and the measure will head to President Donald Trump for his signature.

Yields on 10-year U.S. Treasurys were steady Wednesday at 2.460% from 2.464% after their biggest one day jump since September took them to a nine-month high. Some investors expect the bill could push growth and inflation higher in the U.S., in turn pushing up bond yields.

"At a time when the U.S. economy is already very strong this [tax change] will likely add to a pick up in U.S. inflation in the year ahead, " said Shane Oliver, head of investment strategy at AMP Capital.

The WSJ Dollar Index, which tracks the dollar against a basket of 16 others, was flat.

Asian markets were little moved in the quiet preholiday period. Japan's Nikkei Stock Average edged up 0.1% as the dollar rose slightly against the yen and Japanese bank stocks rebounded further after recent gains in government bond yields.

Chinese equities fell after the midday pause there, reversing some of Tuesday's gains. Shanghai stocks fell 0.3% and the Shenzhen Composite fell 0.7%. "There is not a lot of liquidity flowing into these markets," said Caroline Yu Maurer, head of Greater China equities BNP Paribas Investment Partners.

Bitcoin took a morning plunge in Asian trading. The cryptocurrency's price--which had been trading just below $19,000 Tuesday--fell $2,000 in an hour to $15,600, according to CoinDesk, and was recently at $16,675.

Analysts blamed the swings on money moving from bitcoin to an alternative cryptocurrency called Bitcoin Cash. One of the biggest exchanges, Coinbase, started trading Bitcoin Cash on Wednesday morning--but halted activity after just four minutes.

Richard Rubin

contributed to this article.

Write to Riva Gold at riva.gold@wsj.com and Kenan Machado at kenan.machado@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 20, 2017 03:46 ET (08:46 GMT)