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Stocks rise, bond yields rise with December's upcoming price data in focus

By Sinéad Carew and Amanda Cooper

NEW YORK, LONDON (Reuters) - Wall Street's major stock averages closed higher on Tuesday, steadying in the afternoon after early volatility while Treasury yields rose as investors waited anxiously for U.S. inflation data due later in the week.

The U.S. dollar was little changed versus the euro and othermajor currencies, hovering close to its weakest level in seven months as investors positioned themselves ahead of the December consumer price data due on Thursday.

U.S. Treasury yields rose as investors prepared themselves for how inflation numbers might influence the Federal Reserve's interest rate hiking path as it has been prioritizing its fight against decades-high inflation.

The U.S. consumer price index (CPI) is expected to show December's headline inflation at 6.5% versus 7.1% in November.

"Generally the markets are waiting for this Thursday's CPI print coming out for December. It will probably be the biggest data point for the week and certainly give us some clarity around the direction of inflation," said Mona Mahajan senior investment strategist at Edward Jones.

"We're sensing a bit of sideways movement in the market today and probably we'll continue to get that."

The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 186.45 points, or 0.56%, to 33,704.1, the S&P 500 gained 27.16 points, or 0.70%, to 3,919.25 and the Nasdaq Composite added 106.98 points, or 1.01%, to 10,742.63.

While the S&P finished up near its session high, it was still well below Monday's intraday high, which had been its highest level since mid December. The benchmark had flitted between red and green territory in morning trading.

The pan-European STOXX 600 index lost 0.59% and MSCI's gauge of stocks across the globe gained 0.30% while emerging market stocks rose 0.05%.

Signs of slowing wage inflation from the December U.S. jobs report released on Friday had provided some reassurance that inflation has peaked, potentially giving the Fed leeway to slow its interest rate hikes.

But investors had been anxious ahead of an appearance by Fed Chair Jerome Powell on Tuesday where the policy maker avoided speaking about rate hikes in a speech in Sweden.

"What you might have had coming into today was a market that was a bit on edge as to what Powell might say and then a minor sigh of relief when he said nothing," said Eric Theoret, Global Macro Strategist at Manulife Investment Management.

However, with consumer price increases still well above the central bank's target of 2%, two Fed officials on Monday had issued a stark reminder that interest rates will have to keep rising, no matter what investors have priced in.

San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly told the Wall Street Journal she would pay close attention to the CPI data and that both 25- and 50-basis point hikes were options for her. Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic said his "base case" was for no rate cuts this year or next.

"Inflation and what the Fed's response to it is still remains the number one focus and anxiety for the market," said Manulife's Theoret.

The dollar index, which measures the greenback against a basket of major currencies, rose 0.107%, with the euro up 0.06% to $1.0734.

"Until a more hawkish Fed narrative emerges, the dollar islikely to remain under pressure," said Win Thin, global head ofcurrency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman, who added thatcurrent dollar weakness may be overdone.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.26% versus the greenback at 132.21 per dollar even after data showed a faster pick-up in Tokyo inflation that could prompt the Bank of Japan to tighten monetary policy more quickly.

Benchmark 10-year notes were up 9.2 basis points to 3.610%, from 3.517% late on Monday. The 30-year bond was last up 8.9 basis points to yield 3.7387%, from 3.65%. The 2-year note was last was up 4.4 basis points to yield 4.2431%, from 4.199%.

Oil prices were higher as the U.S. government forecast record global petroleum consumption next year and as the dollar hovered at seven-month lows.

U.S. crude settled up 0.66% at $75.12 per barrel and Brent finished at $80.10, up 0.56% on the day.

In precious metals, spot gold added 0.3% to $1,877.01 an ounce. U.S. gold futures gained 0.29% to $1,878.10 an ounce.

(Reporting by Sinéad Carew, John McCrank in New York, Amanda Cooper in London, Selena Li in Hong Kong; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Angus MacSwan, Chizu Nomiyama, Alexandra Hudson and Josie Kao)