March 26, 2018 / 4:03 PM / 4 months ago

US STOCKS-Wall St climbs as trade war fears cool

* Microsoft, Intel up after upgrades by brokerages

* Facebook off more than 3 pct, down five days out of six

* Wall St coming off its worst week in over two years

* Indexes up: Dow 1.38 pct, S&P 1.14 pct, Nasdaq 1.18 pct (Changes comment, adds details, updates prices)

By Sruthi Shankar

March 26 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks were higher on Monday as fears about a trade war between the United States and China eased following reports that the two countries were willing to negotiate tariffs and trade imbalances.

However, a 3 percent fall in Facebook’s shares weighed on tech stocks after U.S. Federal Trade Commission made public its investigation into the social network, which has come under fire for data privacy issues.

Facebook hit a session low of $149, erasing its market capitalization by $100 billion since the scandal unfolded last week.

“They’ll have to explain to users what they’re going to do and that may stop the bleeding,” said Kim Forrest, senior equity research analyst at Fort Pitt Capital Group in Pittsburgh.

“But in the short term everyone realizes that it’s a self-feeding loop as more people leave so are more advertisers.”

The United States asked China in a letter last week to slash tariffs on U.S. autos and give U.S. firms greater access to the Chinese financial sector, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday the country would treat foreign and domestic firms equally, not force foreign firms to transfer technology and would strengthen intellectual property rights, repeating promises that have failed to placate Washington.

Stock markets were gripped by fears of a global trade war after President Donald Trump last week moved to impose tariffs on Chinese imports of up to $60 billion, adding to the import restrictions he has already placed on solar panels, steel and aluminum among others.

“There are some tentative signs that fears of an escalation of trade tensions are beginning to ease,” Craig Erlam, a market analyst at OANDA, wrote in a note to clients. “A rebound in global equities overnight is offering the market some optimism of stabilization after last week’s rout.”

At 11:03 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 1.38 percent to 23,856.99. The S&P 500 gained 1.14 percent to 2,617.85 and the Nasdaq Composite was up 1.18 percent at 7,074.96.

Microsoft jumped 5.4 percent and was the biggest driver of the three main indexes. Morgan Stanley raised its price target on Microsoft’s stock, saying the software company could hit $1 trillion in market value with growing public adoption of the cloud and improving margins.

Intel rose 3 percent after brokerage Raymond James upgraded the stock to “market perform”.

Last week, the three main U.S. indexes posted their steepest weekly declines since January 2016 as the fears of a global trade war added to jitters about a faster pace of U.S. interest rate hikes and fears of increased regulations to the high-flying technology sector in the wake of Facebook’s data scandal.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE for a 2.43-to-1 ratio and for a 1.82-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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