- Ukraine tensions rise as Putin warns of 'consequences'
- Russia to begin military drills -Interfax
- Ukraine pauses operations
- Apple gains strongly after earnings, increases buyback
- Facebook beats forecasts but shares
- US economic data comes in mixed
- Barclays sees NFP rising by 250,000 in April
Dow Jones: -0.07%
S&P 500: 0.09%
Early gains on US stock markets were quickly erased on Thursday on the back of rising tensions in Ukraine, despite impressive results from a number of heavyweights, including Apple and Facebook. By midday however, the main stockmarket averages had largely recovered from an earlier swoon and were trading almost unchanged on the day.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500
were more or lass flatlining, while the Nasdaq was up by 0.4%.
Just after the open on Wall Street Interfax reported that the Russian Federation has begun military drills in response to the situation in southeast Ukraine.
Comepnsating for that a bit later on, Ukraine "paused to reformulate the plan", a senior security official in Kiev said, according to reports from Kyiv Post editor Katya Gorchinskaya, amid a "heightened risk" of Russia sending troops into Ukraine.
Markets were also reacting to economic data today which showed that jobless claims rose 24,000 to 329,000 last week. This compared with an upwardly revised 305,000 the week before and disappointed analysts who were looking for a figure of 315,000.
Meanwhile, US durable goods orders increased by 2.6% in March, up from 2.1% growth the previous month and ahead of the 2% month-on-month rise expected.
As an aside, Barclays Research said it sees April non-farm payrolls (NFP) coming in at 250,000, versus the 192,000 seen in March. That comes as some traders have been critical of what they say has been a tepid pace of job growth up until now.
Higher-than-expected sales of iPhones helped Apple to deliver earnings per share (EPS) of $11.62 for its fiscal second quarter. This was up from $10.09 the year before and well above the consensus forecast for $10.18.
The stock was as much as 7% higher after Apple also added a further $30bn to its share buyback programme and announced a seven-for-one stock split which could see the company join the Dow, given that its high price was an obstacle to its inclusion in the index.
Social media titan Facebook impressed after it smashed profit forecasts for its first quarter, as a surge in mobile advertising led to a jump in revenues. However, the stock was swinging between gains and losses early on.
Caterpillar also managed to soundly beat analysts' forecasts, delighting shareholders with a first-quarter EPS figure of $1.61, in comparison to the $1.23 anticipated by analysts.
Zimmer Holdings, a maker of artificial joints, rose strongly after agreeing to buy rival Biomet in a cash-and-stock deal valued at $13.4bn. Biomet's parent, Biomet Group, had been planning an initial public offering, Zimmer said.
West Texas Intermediate futures were up 0.45% at $101.90 a barrel on the NYMEX.
The yield on a 10-year US Treasury was down one basis point at 2.69%.