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GLOBAL MARKETS-Equities, yields close lower before U.S.-China trade crunch time

Sinéad Carew

time@

* Wall St falls as tariff deadline nears, gold rises slightly

* U.S.-China trade drama also pushes down bond yields, oil

* Trump touts Xi letter after saying China "broke the deal" (Updates to close, adds commentary)

NEW YORK, May 9 (Reuters) - Stock indexes around the world fell for a fourth day in a row on Thursday, though Wall Street closed above session lows after comments from President Donald Trump about U.S.-China trade talks a day before the United States was due to raise tariffs.

Trump said Thursday afternoon he received a "beautiful letter" from Chinese President Xi Jinping asking to work together to "get something done." Negotiators were to meet at 5 p.m. Eastern (2100 GMT) and continue talks through Friday.

Wall Street participants were still anxious but oil prices also pared losses after Trump's comments. U.S. Treasury yields fell as investors sought safe havens and the dollar was down against Japan's yen, though it regained some ground.

Earlier in the day China had asked the United States to meet it halfway in the hope of staving off threat of a U.S. tariff hike on $200 billion of Chinese goods to 25% from 10% at 12:01 a.m EDT (0400 GMT) on Friday.

"What the market fears deep down is an all-out trade war with no hope for resolution," said Tim Ghriskey, chief investment strategist at Inverness Counsel in New York.

"Trading today is telling me that the expectation for a trade deal is now that it's likely to happen a bit sooner than months away or never," he said.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 138.97 points, or 0.54%, to 25,828.36, the S&P 500 lost 8.7 points, or 0.30%, to 2,870.72 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 32.73 points, or 0.41%, to 7,910.59.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 1.65% and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe shed 0.78%.

Previously Beijing said it would retaliate if the tariff hike is implements while Trump had insisted China "broke the deal."

"Investors are worried about the clash of the titans," said Joseph Quinlan head of market strategy for Merrill and Bank of America Private Bank in New York.

"It's the knock-on effect on the rest of the world in terms of potential disruptions to global supply chains, the decline in investor confidence, business confidence and consumer confidence. And we're getting closer to striking midnight."

U.S. Treasury yields fell as investors looked for safety but regained some ground after hitting a five-week low partly due to Trump's latest comments. Yet strategists were cautious.

"I don't think we are going to get an all-clear sign on Friday," said Blake Gwinn, head of front-end rates strategy at NatWest Markets in Stamford, Connecticut. "This could keep rolling along for weeks or months."

Benchmark 10-year notes last rose 9/32 in price to yield 2.4512%, from 2.483% late on Wednesday after hitting a session low of 2.422%, which was also a five-week low.

In currencies, the yen had surged to a three-month high against the dollar and the Swiss franc was at a three-week high as investors worried about an escalating trade conflict.

The greenback eased some declines and was last down 0.4% against the yen.

The dollar index fell 0.21%, with the euro up 0.25% to $1.1219.

In commodities, spot gold added 0.3% to $1,283.81 an ounce.

Brent oil futures settled slightly higher and U.S. crude pared losses after a revival of investor hopes the United States could reach a trade deal and avert a hit to global economic growth, which would crimp oil demand.

U.S. crude futures fell 0.85% to $61.70 per barrel, down 42 cents, 0.68% while Brent futures settled at $70.39 per barrel, up 2 cents, 0.03%. lost 2.08

(Additional reporting by Kate Duguid, Richard Leong in New York, Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru, Marc Jones in London, Tomo Uetake in Sydney, Noah Sin in Hong Kong; editing by Dale Hudson, John Stonestreet and Jonathan Oatis)