April 5, 2018 / 4:17 PM / 4 months ago

US STOCKS-S&P 500 eyes best three-day gain since Trump's election

* Facebook up after CEO says no "meaningful impact" on ad sales

* Industrials lead gains on Dow

* U.S. trade deficit rises to near 9-1/2-year high

* Indexes up: Dow 1.46 pct, S&P 1.03 pct, Nasdaq 0.92 pct (Changes comment, adds details, updates prices)

By Sruthi Shankar

April 5 (Reuters) - The S&P 500 on Thursday headed for its best three-day rise since President Donald Trump's election as technology and industrial shares bolstered a recovery on easing trade war concerns.

Shares of Boeing and Caterpillar, among the worst hit on Wednesday after China retaliated with $50 billion in tariffs on U.S. goods such as soybeans, autos, and some types of aircraft, rose 1.7 percent and 3 percent.

"There is a lot of bad news on the trade front built into the market. So the ability of the equity markets to push significantly lower is going to be limited," said John Brady, senior vice president at R.J. O'Brien & Associates in Chicago.

"We're going to need brand new, bad news on trade for the equity markets to push lower."

Facebook, Amazon, Alphabet and Netflix - collectively known as the "FANG" group - were up between 1.2 percent and 2.6 percent.

At 12:02 p.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was 1.46 percent at 24,617.39. The S&P 500 gained 1.03 percent to 2,671.85 and the Nasdaq Composite rose 0.92 percent to 7,106.54.

If current gains for S&P 500 hold, it would be the best three-day run since Trump's election victory in November 2016.

Nine of the 11 major S&P sectors were higher, led by a 1.2 percent gain on the material and the energy indexes.

The S&P 500 index showed four new 52-week highs and one new low, while the Nasdaq recorded 47 new highs and 24 new lows.

Facebook shares gained after Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg said the company had not seen "any meaningful impact" on usage or ad sales since the data privacy scandal.

"Zuckerberg is going to testify the Congress next week on the Facebook issues, so probably there's some bargain hunting in FANG space," said Brady.

On Wednesday, the Dow bounced back from a 500 point fall earlier to close up about 230 points after President Donald Trump's top economic adviser Larry Kudlow said the administration was involved in a "negotiation" with China rather than a trade war.

Economic data on Thursday showed the U.S. trade deficit increased to a near 9-1/2-year high in February, but the shortfall with China narrowed sharply. While exports to China were unchanged in February, imports from the country declined 14.7 percent.

Advanced Micro Devices jumped 3.2 percent after Stifel upgraded to "buy", while Micron Technology fell 5.3 percent after UBS started with a "sell" rating.

Advancing issues outnumbered decliners on the NYSE for a 2.76-to-1 ratio and on the Nasdaq for a 1.90-to-1 ratio. (Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila)

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