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GLOBAL MARKETS-Stocks gain with dimming chances of Sept rate hike

* U.S. Treasury yield curve steepest since July

* Wall Street gains on Apple, lower chance of rate hike

* SNB and the BoE both hold fire

* Dollar firms on expectations for Dec. Fed rate hike

* Oil steady on short-covering after 2-day drop (Updates to U.S. trading, changes byline, dateline previous LONDON)

By Saqib Iqbal Ahmed

NEW YORK, Sept 15 Global equity prices gained on Thursday after a mixed bag of U.S. economic data dimmed chances the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates next week.

The U.S. Treasury yield curve steepened to the most in two-and-a-half months as longer-dated debt fell, highlighting expectations that the Fed could wait longer to raise benchmark rates.

Oil prices edged up as short-covering stemmed a two-day rout, but a stronger dollar stemmed gains.

August U.S. retail sales fell more than expected, pointing to cooling domestic demand that further diminishes expectations for a Federal Reserve interest rate increase next week.

"The data was weaker than expected, especially retail sales, which I think the market was focusing on," said Gary Pollack, head of fixed-income trading at Deutsche Bank Private Wealth Management in New York.

Also on Thursday, U.S. weekly jobless claims data showed a tightening labor market with subdued layoffs last week, while underlying producer price inflation crept up in August.

The gap between five-year note yields and 30-year bonds yields widened to 128 basis points, the steepest since July 1.

Expectations that the Fed will wait longer to raise rates is causing the long bond to underperform as lower rates are likely to increase inflation longer-term, which erodes the value of the debt.

Futures traders are now pricing in a 12-percent chance of a rate increase this month, down from 15 percent on Wednesday, according to the CME Group's FedWatch tool.

On Wall Street, stocks rose and provided some support to MSCI's world stocks index, which tracks shares in 45 nations. The index of global stocks was up 0.58 percent.

"We're right now in a Goldilocks economy. It's not too hot, it's not too cold. It's just right to keep the Fed on the sidelines and keep interest rates right where they are," said Paul Nolte, portfolio manager at Kingsview Asset Management in Chicago.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 141.62 points, or 0.79 percent, to 18,176.39, the S&P 500 gained 16.8 points, or 0.79 percent, to 2,142.57 and the Nasdaq Composite added 56.39 points, or 1.09 percent, to 5,230.16.

European shares hovered near one-month lows, as concerns over a weak economic backdrop and recent heavy selling in the bond market pegged back equities. Europe's broad FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.57 percent at 1,339.35.

Stocks in Tokyo closed at a three-week low amid uncertainty over interest rate policy.

In currency markets, the U.S. dollar held firm against a basket of major currencies after traders looked ahead to a potential rate increase from the Fed in December and sold yen on anticipation the Bank of Japan could ramp up stimulus next week.

The dollar index was up 0.03 percent at 95.359.

The Bank of Japan and U.S. Federal Reserve both meet next week. On Thursday, the Swiss National Bank and the Bank of England both held fire with any further moves to support growth or weaken their currencies.

Oil prices rose as much as 2 percent on Thursday, tracking a surge in gasoline futures and higher U.S. equity markets that helped stem a two-day rout in crude futures.

Brent crude was up 2.2 percent at $46.88 a barrel, while U.S. crude was up 1.4 percent at $44.20.

Gold slipped as the dollar edged upward. Spot gold prices were down 0.21 percent to $1,319.80 an ounce.

(Reporting by Saqib Iqbal Ahmed; Additional reporting by Karen Brettell in New York and Yashaswini Swamynathan in Bengaluru; Editing by Daniel Bases and Nick Zieminski)

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