GLOBAL MARKETS-Investors flock to safe-haven bonds, stocks off highs

(Updates with afternoon trading)

* Trump official downplays concerns about a global trade war

* U.S. stocks mixed in afternoon trading

* U.S., Euro bond yields lower

NEW YORK, March 15 (Reuters) - U.S. stock indexes wavered between gains and losses on Thursday as short-term concerns eased over a global trade war, but fears of longer-term instability kept demand high for safe-haven government bonds on both sides of the Atlantic.

U.S. industrial stocks climbed after a White House trade adviser sought to downplay the chances of a trade war in the wake of recent protectionist policies from U.S. President Donald Trump's administration.

Trump's tough approach to global trade, including new tariffs on metals imports, will not necessarily provoke retaliation from trading partners, Peter Navarro, the top adviser on international economic exchanges, said on CNBC.

Caterpillar was up more than 1 percent, while GE and 3M had made similar gains earlier before losing some ground.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 80.06 points, or 0.32 percent, to 24,838.18, the S&P 500 lost 5.64 points, or 0.21 percent, to 2,743.84 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 28.67 points, or 0.38 percent, to 7,468.14.

Wall Street is trying to avoid its first four-day losing streak of 2018. Equities, especially shares of manufacturers, have been under pressure from Trump's tariff plans, including a move to impose duties of up to $60 billion on Chinese imports while pushing for $100 billion cut in its trade surplus.

In Europe, a strong showing by insurance companies like Munich Re and Generali, both up more than 2.5 percent, offset political concerns over creeping far-right influence in Italy and growing tensions between Russia and the U.K..

The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300 index rose 0.53 percent, while MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.21 percent.

The U.S. dollar, meanwhile, gained against a basket of six other currencies. The dollar index rose 0.48 percent, with the euro down 0.52 percent to $1.2301.

Fears over political uncertainty did not disappear altogether.

The dollar remained down against the Japanese yen, which is often a sign that investors are uncertain about the U.S. political and economic climates.

Bond yields, too, reflected an increased appetite for government bonds viewed as less risky.

Many yields in the euro zone fell to their lowest level since late January, pushed down by both political uncertainty and expectations for a slow exit from the European Central Bank's stimulus.

Germany's 10-year bond yield fell to 0.57 percent, its lowest level in seven weeks. French and Dutch 10-year bond yields also fell to their lowest levels since January.

The U.S. Treasury yield curve continued to flatten amid concerns about a trade war. And yields also fell Thursday afternoon on a New York Times report that Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor investigating meddling by Russia in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, subpoenaed documents from the Trump Organization.

Benchmark 10-year notes last fell 2/32 in price to yield 2.8243 percent, from 2.817 percent late on Wednesday.

The 30-year bond last fell 2/32 in price to yield 3.0608 percent, from 3.058 percent Thursday.

Oil prices edged higher in choppy trade. U.S. crude rose 0.36 percent to $61.18 per barrel and Brent was last at $65.08, up 0.29 percent on the day.

(Additional reporting by Marc Jones, Fanny Potkin and Kate Duguid; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Nick Zieminski)