Nasdaq ends higher on Apple; Ukraine curbs broader market gains

The Nasdaq Composite advanced Thursday as Apple jumped a day after the iPad maker posted sound results, while the broader market held little changed amid concerns about escalating tension between Russia and Ukraine.

"The good thing was Apple's news. We had a mini-tech wreck here but now we're coming out of it," said Mike Serio, regional chief investment officer for Wells Fargo Private Bank.

The Dow ended literally flat at 16,501.61, the first time in 12 years that it registered no change on the day.

"Apple's beat alone added approximately 15 cents to S&P earnings per share, and added 0.5 percent to year-over-year growth on the S&P 500," Serio added.

The technology sector was also lifted by earnings from Facebook and Texas Instruments.

Worries about Ukraine hit Germany's DAX equity index, which turned negative after reports quoting Russia's defense minister as saying Russian troops had begun military drills near the Ukrainian border.

"There are reports of escalating troop movement in Ukraine," said Art Hogan chief market strategist at Wunderlich Securities. The fact that Germany's DAX index underperformed other major European markets "speaks to the local effect," he added.

Russia starts military drills near Ukraine: Reports

"What we're going to have here for a while is an expanded risk premium for the Ukraine situation," said Serio.

In a related development, the International Monetary Fund on Thursday said Ukraine had met conditions for a financial aid package, which will be reviewed on April 30 when the IMF board meets.

The market is also contending with technical resistance, said Hogan. "Yesterday we had a failure to break out of the 1,885 level, so 1,884 was the high of the day, failing that reinvigorated some bears that think we're overdone. We have a tug of war here between is good news good enough to break out above that level," he said.

S&P 500

After a 39-point rise and 49-point fall, the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended unchanged at 16,501.61 after components Caterpillar, 3M and Verizon Communications posted quarterly results.

Caterpillar rose after the agricultural-equipment maker surprised with stronger-than-expected earnings and raised its full-year outlook.

The S&P 500 also wavered before finishing up 3.22 ponts, or 0.2 percent, to 1,878.61, with technology leading gains and telecommunications falling hardest among its 10 sectors.

After rising as much as 50 points and falling 19, the Nasdaq gained 21.37 points, or 0.5 percent, to 4,148.34

The CBOE Volatility Index, a measure of investor uncertainty, rose 0.4 percent to 13.32.

Decliners ran just ahead of advancers on the New York Stock Exchange, where nearly 661 million shares traded. Composite volume neared 3.2 billion.

On the New York Mercantile Exchange, gold futures for June delivery rose $6.00, or 0.4 percent, to $1,290.60 an ounce. Crude for June delivery rose 50 cents, or 0.5 percent, to $101.94 a barrel.

The dollar edged lower against other currencies and the 10-year Treasury yield dropped a basis point to 2.68 percent.

Read MoreWhy stocks may be sniffing out inflation

Thursday's economic reports had orders for durable goods rising 2.6 percent in March, ahead of a 2 percent estimate.

Another report had more Americans than projected filing for jobless benefits last week.

On Wednesday, stocks fell after disappointing data on new home sales and as companies including Boeing and AT&T reported earnings.

Starbucks and Visa are among those reporting after Thursday's close.

Factset Symbol Name Value
MKT.CVOL-BATY BATY Composite Volume 2117700000
MKT.CVOL-BATS BATS Composite Volume 300000
MKT.CVOL-CBO CBOE Composite Volume 900600000
MKT.CVOL-CHI CHICAGO Composite Volume 941900000
MKT.CVOL-EDGX EDGX Composite Volume 2122600000
MKT.CVOL-EDGA EDGA Composite Volume 2117800000
MKT.CVOL-ADF FINRA Composite Volume 2124700000
MKT.CVOL-CIS NATIONAL Composite Volume 1957300000
MKT.CVOL-NYS NYSE Composite Volume 3174500000
MKT.CVOL-ASE MYSE MKT Composite Volume 92600000
MKT.CVOL-PSE NYSE ARCA Composite Volume 783700000
MKT.CVOL-NAS NASDAQ Composite Volume 2126400000
MKT.CVOL-OTC OTC BB Composit Volume 316000000
Total 22937300000

—By CNBC's Kate Gibson

Coming Up This Week:


Earnings: Ford, Colgate-Palmolive, Goodyear Tire, Honda Motors,Moody's, Covidien, VF Corp, Weyerhaeuser, Dana Holding, Tyco, WPP Group, State Street, AON, American Electric Power

8:58 a.m.: Services PMI

9:55 a.m.: Consumer sentiment

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