(Updates to late afternoon, adds commentary)
* Wall Street hits fresh records despite N. Korea missile nerves
* Financial stocks boost S&P after Fed chair nominee hearing
* Dollar higher, helped by data, policy hopes
* Brexit speculation causes sterling to gyrate
* U.S. Treasury yield curve steepens; investors eye tax policy
* Oil prices slip on OPEC deal extension jitters
By Sinead Carew
NEW YORK, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Wall Street hit record highs and the dollar edged up on Tuesday as traders eyed progress on U.S. tax reform, strong economic data and comments from Federal Reserve chair nominee Jerome Powell.
The British pound briefly rallied more than 1 percent from its lows after The Daily Telegraph newspaper reported that Britain and the European Union had agreed on the Brexit divorce bill, citing unidentified sources.
Sterling was last 0.32 percent higher at $1.3359.
U.S. stocks had a volatile afternoon after news of a North Korean missile launch caused the S&P 500 to pare gains. But indexes regained ground and hit fresh highs as investor focus returned to hopes for U.S. tax cuts.
The U.S. Senate budget committee voted along party lines to send a Republican tax bill to the full Senate for a vote.
“It’s all about tax reform right now and a little bit about the new Fed chairman,” said Chris Zaccarelli, chief investment officer at Independent Advisor Alliance in Cornelius, North Carolina.
“With the House having passed it and the Senate working hard on it, there’s a lot of optimism something will get passed. But with only two votes to lose it’s going to be a bit of a challenge.”
The S&P’s biggest boost came from financial stocks after Powell discussed potentially lightening regulation in his confirmation hearing, and said the best way to sustain the U.S. economic recovery would be to continue gradual rate increases.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 247.19 points, or 1.05 percent, to 23,827.97, the S&P 500 gained 24.73 points, or 0.95 percent, to 2,626.15 and the Nasdaq Composite added 31.50 points, or 0.46 percent, to 6,910.02.
The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.59 percent and MSCI’s gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.49 percent.
The dollar index rose 0.36 percent, with the euro down 0.44 percent to $1.1844.
The dollar was helped by data showing U.S consumer confidence surged to a near 17-year high in November, driven by a robust labor market, and that house prices rose sharply in September, which should underpin consumer spending and boost economic growth.
“Some of the data that we got today kind of confirms this goldilocks environment that we have,” said Anthony Saglimbene, global market strategist at Ameriprise in Troy, Michigan. “Unemployment and interest rates are low, confidence and asset prices are high.”
Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 3/32 in price to yield 2.3365 percent, from 2.328 percent late on Monday.
The 30-year bond last fell 1/32 in price to yield 2.7661 percent, from 2.765 percent late on Monday.
Oil prices eased on uncertainty over the outcome of an OPEC meeting this week at which an extension to its price-supporting oil output cuts will be discussed.
U.S. crude fell 0.36 percent to $57.90 per barrel and Brent was last at $63.49, down 0.55 percent on the day.
Additional reporting by Lewis Krauskopf, Saqib Iqbal Ahmed and Gertrude Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York, Georgina Prodhan in London, Swati Pandey in Sydney; Editing by Catherine Evans and Nick Zieminski