* Russia launches army drills near Ukraine border
* U.S. share off early gains on Apple, Facebook gains
* Dollar loses ground on risk aversion
* U.S. Treasuries yields move lower
(Adds opening of U.S. markets, changes dateline; pvs LONDON)
By Sam Forgione
NEW YORK, April 24 Global stock markets and the
dollar pulled back from strong early gains on Thursday on
worries about rising tensions in Ukraine, but U.S. technology
shares were higher on upbeat earnings from Apple and Facebook.
Ukrainian forces killed at least five pro-Moscow rebels on
Thursday as they closed in on the separatists' military
stronghold in the east, while Russia launched army drills near
the border in response.
Fears of escalating conflict between Ukrainian troops and
pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine have risen since Russia
annexed Ukraine's Crimea region last month, and armed protesters
in eastern Ukraine have captured several towns.
"Ukraine is a lit stick of dynamite," said Todd
Schoenberger, managing partner at LandColt Capital in New York.
"All those geopolitical concerns warrant instability and higher
commodity prices, and both of those are things Wall Street
The concerns were partially responsible for a quick
turnaround in U.S. stocks after a sharp rally at the opening.
Facebook and Apple posted strong results after
Wednesday's market close, and Apple's announcement of a large
stock buyback and a stock split motivated buyers to jump into
the most valuable U.S. company.
Shares of Facebook were still up modestly on Thursday, while
Apple gained 7.9 percent. Bellwethers Caterpillar,
General Motors and Aetna also rose after results.
The dollar slipped against major currencies, hit by the
tensions on the Russia/Ukraine border. The dollar had earlier
risen broadly after upbeat U.S. durable goods data for March
came in above expectations.
The escalating tensions in Ukraine also hurt European stock
markets, erasing early gains from mergers and acquisitions
activity and upbeat statements from electrical gear maker
Schneider Electric and oil services group Technip.
The MSCI world equity index, which tracks
shares in 45 nations, edged up 0.16 percent, to 413.33.
The Dow Jones industrial average was up 30.83 points,
or 0.19 percent, at 16,532.48. The Standard & Poor's 500 Index
was up 6.53 points, or 0.35 percent, at 1,881.92. The
Nasdaq Composite Index was up 29.90 points, or 0.72
percent, at 4,156.86.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the dollar
against six major currencies, last traded down 0.08 percent. The
dollar was last down 0.32 percent against the yen at
"Geopolitical risks are taking precedence. The move down in
the dollar/yen in such a short period of time is pretty
significant. This is all really risk aversion," said Camilla
Sutton, chief currency strategist at Scotiabank in Toronto.
U.S. Treasuries prices edged lower on the rising Ukraine
tensions. The 10-year note was down 5/32 to yield
Oil prices were higher. Brent crude for June delivery
added 99 cents to $110.10 a barrel, while U.S. crude
gained 65 cents to $102.09.
Spot gold climbed 0.5 percent to $1,289.45 an ounce.
(Reporting by Sam Forgione; additional reporting by Marc Jones
in London and Ryan Vlastelica in New York; Editing by Dan