US STOCKS-Apple lifts Nasdaq; Ukraine drags on broader market
* Apple rallies a day after announcing 7-for-1 stock split
* Caterpillar gains after results; Verizon, 3M fall
* Dow off 0.04 pct; S&P 500 up 0.1 pct; Nasdaq up 0.4 pct (Updates to mid-afternoon, changes byline)
By Chuck Mikolajczak
NEW YORK, April 24 (Reuters) - The Nasdaq rose modestly in choppy trade on Thursday as Apple's shares rallied a day after the iPad maker's strong results, though tensions in Ukraine held back the broader market.
Caterpillar Inc shares jumped nearly 2 percent and helped limit the Dow's loss after the world's largest maker of earth-moving machinery reported earnings that exceeded Wall Street's expectations.
The three major U.S. stock indexes had opened sharply higher, with the Nasdaq initially climbing more than 1 percent before turning negative in the first half-hour of trading. Wall Street bounced off session lows with gains again concentrated in the Nasdaq, but stocks remained well off earlier highs.
Much of the volatility was driven by comments from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who said Russia started military drills near the border with Ukraine. In addition, Ukrainian forces killed up to five pro-Moscow rebels as they closed in on the separatists' military stronghold in the east.
Shares of Apple Inc, the most valuable U.S. company by market capitalization, jumped 8.2 percent to $567.86, its biggest gain in two years, a day after the company posted revenue that far outpaced expectations. Apple also approved another $30 billion stock-buyback plan, raised its dividend and authorized a seven-for-one stock split. The S&P information technology index rose 0.9 percent and was the best-performing sector of the day. Continuación...