4 Min Read
* 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 (Reuters) - 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 hates."
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 $102.2200.
"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 2.7041 percent.
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 Grebler