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GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks climb as Fed calms investors; bond prices up

* Nasdaq hits record high close

* Fed flags possible December rate hike, outlook more dovish

* Dollar falls (Updates with closing levels for U.S. markets)

By Caroline Valetkevitch

NEW YORK, Sept 22 World stock indexes and bond prices climbed on Thursday, extending gains from a day earlier, when the U.S. Federal Reserve signaled an increasingly cautious approach to future interest rate hikes.

The S&P 500 had its best two-day performance in more than two months, while the dollar fell to its lowest in 10 days against a basket of major currencies.

The Fed said it could hike rates by year-end as the labor market improved further, but scaled back the number of rate increases expected in 2017 and 2018. It also reduced its longer-run rate forecast to 2.9 percent from 3 percent.

That left investors feeling that any monetary policy tightening would be leisurely at best. Market pricing for a December move rose only a fraction, to 59.3 percent from 59.2 percent, according to CME Group's FedWatch tool.

"Lower for longer is a good thing for the equity markets..." said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago. "It basically says risk back on."

Big tech names led broad gains on Wall Street, and the Nasdaq closed at a record high for a second straight session.

The Dow Jones industrial average ended up 98.76 points, or 0.54 percent, at 18,392.46, the S&P 500 gained 14.06 points, or 0.65 percent, to 2,177.18, while the Nasdaq Composite added 44.34 points, or 0.84 percent, to 5,339.52, a record closing high.

MSCI's all-country world stock index was up 1.1 percent, while Europe's STOXX 600 closed up 1.6 percent.

In the bond market, benchmark U.S. yields hit near two-week lows on revived bets the Fed would raise rates slowly due to weak economic growth and inflation stuck below its 2-percent goal.

Traders' perception that a December rate hike is far from a sure thing, and that the Fed is on a slow path of rate normalization, led them to favor longer-dated Treasuries over shorter-dated issues. The move pushed the yield curve to its flattest level in more than a week.

U.S. benchmark 10-year Treasury notes rose 9/32 in price, yielding 1.637 percent, down 4 basis points from Wednesday. It touched 1.6080, which was its lowest since Sept. 9, Reuters data showed.

The dollar index fell to 95.048, its lowest point since Sept. 12. It rebounded slightly in afternoon trading, gaining largely against the euro and was last down 0.25 percent at 95.426.

Oil prices climbed for a second day on U.S. government data that showed a surprising crude inventory drop. But the advance was limited by trader worries that OPEC was not nearing an agreement to reduce a global glut.

U.S. crude futures rose 98 cents, or 2.2 percent, to settle at $46.32 a barrel, while Brent crude futures rose 82 cents, or 1.8 percent, to settle at $47.65.

In other commodities, gold hit a two-week high, with spot gold up 0.1 percent at $1,337.28 an ounce.

For Reuters new Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets see reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=http://emea1.apps.cp.extranet.thomsonreuters.biz/cms/?pageId=livemarkets

(Additional reporting by Lewis Krauskopf in New York and Marc Jones in London; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Dan Grebler)

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