March 5, 2018 / 8:04 PM / in 5 months

US STOCKS-Wall Street gains as fears of trade war ease

* Trump pushes Canada, Mexico on NAFTA, investor fears ease

* Speaker Ryan urges Trump not to move forward on tariffs

* All 11 S&P sectors higher

* Indexes up: Dow 1.4 pct, S&P 1.1 pct, Nasdaq 1.1 pct (Updates to late afternoon, adds commentary)

By Sinéad Carew

NEW YORK, March 5 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks swung higher on Monday as investors said they were expecting U.S. President Donald Trump to back down on his threat to impose hefty tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

The three major U.S. equity indexes rose on bets the threat was just a negotiating tool after Trump said Canada and Mexico could avoid his proposed tariffs if they ceded ground on the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Also U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan urged the administration not to move forward on the tariffs, citing risks to the economy.

“Confidence is gaining that this may not actually take place,” said Jeffrey Carbone, managing partner, Cornerstone Financial Partners, in Huntersville, NC.

The threat last week of import tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum ignited a selloff on Thursday in a market that was already on edge over rising U.S. interest rates and bond yields.

Trump may have backtracked partly due to the backlash from investors, according Art Hogan, chief market strategist at B. Riley FBR in New York, who said the administration “sees the stock market as a report card for success and markets have so far said this trade war is not a good idea.”

At 2:52 PM ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 330.56 points, or 1.35 percent, to 24,868.62, the S&P 500 had gained 30.29 points, or 1.13 percent, to 2,721.54 and the Nasdaq Composite added 76.17 points, or 1.05 percent, to 7,334.04.

All 11 S&P sectors were higher, with the biggest boost coming from the information technology index, which was up 1.2 percent. Facebook, Amazon and JPMorgan were three of the biggest drivers.

The energy sector was up 1.2 percent helped by rising oil prices due to forecasts for robust demand growth and concerns that OPEC will not be able to increase its production capacity.

The utilities sector was the biggest percentage gainer with a 1.9 percent increase followed by the financial sector, which was up 1.7 percent.

Shares of Clearside Biomedical jumped 37 percent after the drug developer’s eye drug met the main goal in a late-stage study, while Dermira plunged 64 percent after the company abandoned its acne drug.

Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 2.41-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.30-to-1 ratio favored advancers.

The S&P 500 posted 11 new 52-week highs and four new lows; the Nasdaq Composite recorded 97 new highs and 20 new lows. (Additional reporting by Rodrigo Campos in New York and Ankur Banerjee and Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and James Dalgleish)

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