* Russia launches army drills near Ukraine border
* U.S. shares pare early gains made on Apple, Facebook rally
* Dollar loses ground on risk aversion
* U.S. Treasuries yields move lower
(Updates to European close, updates prices)
By Sam Forgione
NEW YORK, April 24 Global equity markets rose in
choppy trading on Thursday in the wake of strong earnings
results from tech heavyweights Apple and Facebook, but worries
about rising tensions in Ukraine limited gains and dragged the
Apple,, the most valuable U.S. company by market
capitalization, rose 8.2 percent to $567.54 a day after posting
revenue that far exceeded expectations. Facebook Inc's
and Caterpillar Inc's earnings also beat expectations.
"People have been critical of the cash on Apple's balance
sheet, but now it has faced up to that criticism. It's doing all
the right things, and I don't think a move over $600 would be
out of place now," said Michael Binger, senior portfolio manager
at Gradient Investments LLC in Minneapolis, which owns Apple.
The strong earnings set the tone for the rise in global
share indexes, but rising tensions surrounding Ukraine stifled
the advance. Ukrainian forces killed up to 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 their 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
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.
European stock markets rebounded from earlier weakness
stemming from the Ukraine tensions on signs of a resurgence in
corporate takeover activity. The pan-European FTSEurofirst 300
index, which hit a near 6-year high of 1,355.29 points
earlier this month, closed up 0.3 percent at 1,343.27 points.
"The merger and acquisition activity we have been seeing is
supportive and confirms our view that there is more value left
in the European equity market," said Andrew Arbuthnott, head of
European large cap equity at Pioneer Investments.
The MSCI world equity index, which tracks
shares in 45 nations, rose 0.75 points or 0.18 percent, to
The Dow Jones industrial average rose 19.33 points or
0.12 percent, to 16,520.98, the S&P 500 gained 6.34
points or 0.34 percent, to 1,881.73 and the Nasdaq Composite
added 29.998 points or 0.73 percent, to 4,156.965.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback versus a
basket of six currencies, fell 0.046 points or 0.06 percent, to
79.809. The dollar was last down 0.21 percent against the yen at
U.S. Treasuries prices edged lower after the data showing
stronger-than-expected U.S. durable goods orders reduced
safe-haven bids, but the concerns over Ukraine limited losses.
The 10-year Treasury note was last down 2/32 to
yield 2.695 percent.
Oil prices were higher. Brent crude for June delivery
added $1.38 to $110.50 a barrel, while U.S. crude
gained 59 cents to $102.03.
Gold futures for June delivery were last up 0.54
percent, at $1,291.6 an ounce.
(Reporting by Sam Forgione; additional reporting by Marc Jones
and Sudip Kar-Gupta in London and Ryan Vlastelica in New York;
Editing by Dan Grebler and Chizu Nomiyama)