* 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 close, adds new comment)
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 $567.77, 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.
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.
Shares of Facebook and General Motors were down
modestly on Thursday after initial gains following results,
while bellwethers Caterpillar and Aetna remained
higher after better-than-expected results.
U.S. Treasuries prices traded slightly lower after data
showing stronger-than-expected U.S. durable goods orders reduced
safe-haven bids, but the concerns over Ukraine erased much of
the losses. The 10-year Treasury note last traded
flat to yield 2.69 percent.
"We had pretty decent earnings overnight and that gave
equities a boost, but the Ukraine tensions heated up and as a
result we saw yields come down a bit," said Kim Rupert, managing
director for fixed income at Action Economics in San Francisco.
The Dow Jones industrial average closed unchanged to
16,501.65, the S&P 500 gained 3.22 points or 0.17
percent, to 1,878.61 and the Nasdaq Composite added
21.372 points or 0.52 percent, to 4,148.338.
The dollar slipped against major currencies, hit by the
tensions on the Russia/Ukraine border. The dollar had earlier
risen broadly after U.S. durable goods data for March came in
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
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 0.12 percent.
The dollar index, which tracks the greenback versus
a basket of six currencies, fell 0.085 points, or 0.1 percent,
to 79.773. The dollar was last down 0.21 percent against the yen
Oil prices were higher. Brent crude for June delivery
added $1.29 to $110.40 a barrel, while U.S. crude
gained 51 cents to $101.95.
Gold futures for June delivery were last up 0.62
percent, at $1,292.6 an ounce.
(Reporting by Sam Forgione; additional reporting by Marc Jones
and Sudip Kar-Gupta in London and Ryan Vlastelica and Gertrude
Chavez-Dreyfuss in New York; Editing by Dan Grebler, Chizu
Nomiyama and Nick Zieminski)