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Yen little changed as BOJ holds, spotlight shifts to Fed meeting

Stanley White

* Graphic: World FX rates in 2019 http://tmsnrt.rs/2egbfVh

* Yen on back foot ahead of BOJ meeting

* Dollar supported as bets on aggressive Fed rate cuts wane

* Sterling struggles with growing chance of no-deal Brexit (Adds BOJ meeting outcome, analyst's comment)

TOKYO, July 30 (Reuters) - The yen was little changed versus the dollar on Tuesday, trading near a three-week low after the Bank of Japan left monetary policy on hold as expected, and as investors pared expectations for aggressive rate cuts from the U.S. Federal Reserve.

The BOJ left its massive asset purchase programme and forward guidance unchanged at a monetary policy meeting on Tuesday. Governor Haruhiko Kuroda may provide further clues on policy at a press conference from 0630 GMT.

Against a basket of six major currencies, the dollar traded near a two-month high.

The Fed is expected to cut rates by 25 basis points on Wednesday, and investors are watching for clues on whether the move may be a one-off or the first in a series of several cuts, as many traders are anticipating.

The pound hit a new 28-month low early in Asia trade as investors grew increasingly nervous about the prospects of a no-deal Brexit under new British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Monetary policy is likely to set the tone for currency markets in coming months as central banks from Australia, New Zealand, Europe and possibly Britain are expected to cut rates due to low inflation and risks to global economic growth.

"There is some relief that the BOJ ended without surprise, so now the focus moves to the Fed," said Takuya Kanda, general manager of research at Gaitame.Com Research Institute.

"A rate cut this time around is priced in, so it's a question of whether there will be another cut this year. Still, with sterling so weak against the dollar, it's hard to sell the dollar against other currencies."

The yen was quoted at 108.740 per dollar, little changed on the day. The yen fell to a three-week low of 108.950 early in Asian trading.

The Japanese currency pared its losses and edged a tad higher versus the dollar after the BOJ's decision, but the move quickly faded.

The BOJ, as expected, maintained a pledge to guide short-term interest rates at -0.1% and the 10-year bond yield around 0% via aggressive bond purchases.

The BOJ also said it will ramp up stimulus "without hesitation" if needed, but traders have repeatedly said that compared with other major central banks the BOJ has limited options left.

The dollar index was little changed at 98.163, near a two-month high of 98.165.

The Fed is forecast to cut its target interest rate range on Wednesday by 25 basis points to 2.00%-2.25%.

Investors previously saw the chance of an even more aggressive 50-basis point cut, according to interest rate swaps, but these expectations have dissipated as data has shown the U.S. economy is not as weak as some feared.

Sterling extended its decline, falling to $1.2164, the lowest since March 2017.

Sterling has fallen against the dollar for the past four trading days, because there is a growing risk of a no-deal Brexit where Britain exits the European Union without a trade deal in place. There is also a chance that new Prime Minister Johnson will call an early election. (Reporting by Stanley White; Editing by Sam Holmes & Kim Coghill)