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Stocks Close Mostly Higher on Earnings 04/24 16:35

   The stock market closed mostly higher Thursday, helped by positive earnings 
out of several large U.S. companies including Apple and construction equipment 
maker Caterpillar.

   NEW YORK (AP) -- The stock market closed mostly higher Thursday, helped by 
positive earnings out of several large U.S. companies including Apple and 
construction equipment maker Caterpillar.

   The markets gains were modest, however, as investors turned their eyes back 
to Russia and Ukraine, where geopolitical tensions were heating up once again. 
Some earnings reports, such as 3M and Facebook, also failed to impress 
investors.

   It was the seventh time in the last eight days that the S&P 500 has closed 
higher. Despite the recent upward momentum, traders remain nervous.

   "Everyone is a little apprehensive as we move higher, waiting for the next 
shoe to drop that's going to make the market head lower," said Jonathan 
Corpina, a floor trader at the New York Stock Exchange with Meridian Equity 
Partners. "The market isn't in a healthy mentality at the moment."

   The Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 3.22 points, or 0.2 percent, to 
1,878.61 and the Nasdaq composite rose 21.37 points, or 0.5 percent, to 
4,148.34. The Dow Jones industrial average closed at 16,501.65, unchanged on 
the day.

   Apple was among the biggest gainers in the S&P 500 and helped push the 
Nasdaq composite up more than the rest of the broader market.

   Apple rose $43.02, or 8 percent, to $567.77 after the California-based 
company reported a profit of $11.62 a share, beating forecasts. Apple also 
announced it would increase its share buyback program from $60 billion to $90 
billion, raise its quarterly dividend, and split its stock seven-for-one.

   Dow member Caterpillar rose $1.90, or 2 percent, to $105.28. The 
construction equipment manufacturer said its quarterly earnings rose 5 percent 
from a year ago. Caterpillar also raised is 2014 profit forecast. The company 
earned an adjusted profit of $1.61 a share, well ahead of the $1.21 per share 
expected by analysts.

   Another Dow member, 3M, wasn't as fortunate in the first quarter as 
Caterpillar was.

   The maker of industrial coatings and Post-it notes fell $1.34, or 1 percent, 
to $136.65 after the company's results missed analysts' expectations. The 
Minnesota-based conglomerate earned $1.79 a share, a penny shy of forecasts. 
Revenue also came in short of expectations.

   Despite the mostly positive news from U.S. companies, overseas worries put a 
damper on the market.

   Russian officials said they would hold new military exercises along the 
Ukrainian border, hours after Ukrainian troops killed at least two pro-Russia 
insurgents in eastern Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin described the 
Ukrainian attack as a "punitive operation" and threatened Kiev with unspecified 
consequences. The Russia-Ukraine conflict has been relatively quiet for the 
last couple of weeks, so the recent increase in tensions has made some 
investors nervous.

   Tom di Galoma, who runs fixed-income trading for ED&F Man Capital, said the 
Ukraine-Russia conflict was sending some investors into safer assets, such as 
U.S. Treasurys and gold.

   The yield on 10-year U.S. Treasury note fell 2.68 percent as bond prices 
rose. Gold rose $6, or 0.5 percent, to $1.290.60 an ounce.

   "One day we think there's a resolution, and the next the situation out of 
Ukraine and Russia turns a little alarming," Corpina said.

   Investors were also working through another batch of economic reports. 
Orders to U.S. factories for long-lasting manufactured goods rose 2.6 percent, 
adding to the 2.1 percent rise in February. The back-to-back gains followed two 
big declines in December and January, which had raised concerns about possible 
weakness in manufacturing, The earlier declines, however, were likely tied to 
bad winter weather.

   On the jobs front, the number of people seeking U.S. unemployment benefits 
jumped 24,000 to a seasonally adjusted 329,000 last week, though the gain 
likely reflected temporary layoffs in the week before Easter.

   In other company news:

   -- Facebook fell 49 cents, or 1 percent, to $60.87, despite reporting profit 
and sales that handedly beat forecasts. The social media giant earned an 
adjusted profit of 34 cents a share compared to analysts' estimates of 24 cents 
a share.

   -- Microsoft rose 99 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $40.90 in afterhours trading, 
after reporting a profit that beat analysts' expectations. The software giant 
earned 68 cents a share, compared with the 63 cents analysts were looking for.

   -- Amazon rose $9.04, or 2.7 percent, to $346.00 in aftermarket hours. The 
online retail giant posted a profit of 23 cents a share, two cents better than 
analysts' expectations.

   -- Zimmer Holdings soared $10.52, or 12 percent, to $101.97 after announcing 
it would buy the privately held orthopedic device company Biomet for $13.35 
billion in cash and stock. Biomet was taken private in 2007 by a group of 
private equity companies, and was looking to go public later this year.


(KA)


 
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