- Ukraine tensions rise as Putin warns of 'consequences'
- Russia to begin military drills -Interfax
- Apple gains strongly after earnings, increase buyback
- Facebook beats forecasts but shares
- US economic data comes in mixed
Dow Jones: -0.30%
S&P 500: -0.29%
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.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average and S&P 500
both fell 0.3% in early trade, while the Nasdaq was down 0.4%.
Better-than-expected results from the likes of Caterpillar and General Motors also failed to give the wider market a lift today, after Russian President Vladimir Putin warned of "consequences" from more violence between Ukrainian soldiers and pro-Moscow activists.
Ukrainian troops moving to take back Slavyansk in the east of the country reportedly killed five militants, according to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry.
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.
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% rise expected.
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%.