Stocks Climb as Surge in Apple Bolsters Sentiment

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NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- U.S. markets climbed in a volatile session Thursday, as upbeat earnings from Apple and General Motors offset disappointments from bellwethers such as 3M .

Market participants were closely monitoring developments in Eastern Europe as Russia launched border military exercises after Ukrainian forces killed pro-Russian militants outside the eastern city of Slovyansk.

  • The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed unchanged at 16,501.65, while the S&P 500 added 0.17% to 1,878.61. The Nasdaq gained 0.52% to 4,148.34.
  • The March headline number for durable goods orders rose more than expected, up 2.6% vs. the average estimate of 2%. Jobless claims for the week of April 19 increased by 24,000 to a more-than-expected 329,000 from upwardly revised prior week levels. The four-week moving average edged up by 4,750 to 316,750.
  • Apple shares soared 8.2% after the tech behemoth posted fiscal second-quarter earnings that beat Wall Street estimates, and announced a 7-for-1 stock split. Facebook was adding on 1.38% after the social media giant reported first-quarter earnings and revenue that topped expectations as advertising revenue grew more than expected.
  • Thursday is heavy with corporate earnings announcements, with Amazon and Microsoft reporting after the closing bell. Amazon earned 23 cents a share, in line with Wall Street expectations, on revenue of $19.74 billion. Microsoft earned 68 cents a share, beating expectations by 5 cents, on revenue of $20.4 billion. Both companies were gaining in after-hours trading.
  • General Motors lost 0.64% after producing first-quarter earnings per share that topped estimates by 2 cents at 6 cents. Caterpillar  advanced 1.8% after posting quarterly earnings that exceeded expectations by 20 cents at $1.44 a share. Verizon declined 2.4% as quarterly revenue beat estimates; earnings per share were 3 cents below expectations at 84 cents. 3M fell 0.97% after the office-product supplier reported first-quarter earnings that were below analysts' estimates. General Electric was up 0.15% following a Bloomberg report that the company is in talks to buy Alstom, the French builder of trains and power plants.
  • International markets were mixed on Thursday. The Hang Seng closed up 0.24% while the Nikkei slipped 0.97%. Germany's DAX gained 0.05% while the U.K. FTSE was added 0.42%.

-- By Jane Searle, Andrea Tse and Joe Deaux in New York