U.S. stocks gain on data, Ukraine weighs; Dow ends flat

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Investing.com - U.S. stocks finished Thursday largely higher on solid U.S. durable goods data and on Apple earnings, though escalating tensions in Ukraine spooked investors and sparked profit-taking during the session.

At the close of U.S. trading, the Dow 30 was unchanged, the S&P 500 index rose 0.17%, while the NASDAQ Composite index rose 0.52%.

Ukraine military forces killed five separatists earlier, while Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Kiev against stepping up its offensive against the rebels, sparking fears the U.S. and its European allies will slap fresh sanctions on Moscow and turn the standoff up a notch.

Geopolitical tensions took the luster out of positive U.S. data and Apple earnings, sending investors chasing safe-haven positions outside of equities markets.

The Commerce Department reported earlier that U.S. orders for durable goods rose 2.6% in March, beating expectations for a 2% gain.

Core durable goods orders, which exclude volatile transportation items, rose 2% last month, far outpacing forecasts for a 0.6% gain.

Separately, the Labor Department said the number of individuals who filed for unemployment assistance in the U.S. in the week ending April 19 rose by 24,000 to 329,000. Analysts had expected an increase of 5,000.

Despite the increase, underlying trends still point to recovery in the labor market, which supported stocks on sentiments that a more robust U.S. economy down the road will improve corporate fundamentals.

Meanwhile tech giant Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) late Wednesday announced that 43.7 million iPhones were purchased in the fiscal second quarter after the handset became available through the world's largest wireless carrier, China Mobile, beating expectations.

The company also hiked both stock buyback and a dividend.

Apple reported net earnings for the quarter ending March 31 of $11.62 per share, beating consensus forecasts for $10.18 per share.

Revenue came in at $45.7 billion, topping forecasts for $43.6 billion in sales.

Leading Dow Jones Industrial Average performers included Caterpillar Inc (NYSE:CAT), up 1.86%, UnitedHealth Group Incorporated (NYSE:UNH), up 1.67%, and Home Depot Inc (NYSE:HD), up 1.59%.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average's worst performers included Verizon Communications Inc (NYSE:VZ), down 2.41%, AT&T Inc (NYSE:T), down 1.25%, and Nike Inc (NYSE:NKE), down 0.96%.

European indices, meanwhile, finished higher.

After the close of European trade, the DJ Euro Stoxx 50 rose 0.28%, France's CAC 40 rose 0.64%, while Germany's DAX rose 0.05%. Meanwhile, in the U.K. the FTSE 100 rose 0.42%.

On Friday, the U.S. is to round up the week with revised data on consumer sentiment.

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The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.



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