By Chuck Mikolajczak NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Nasdaq rose modestly in a choppy session on Thursday, lifted by a rally in Apple shares a day after the iPad maker's strong results, though tensions in Ukraine held the broader market in check. Shares of Apple Inc , the most valuable U.S. company by market capitalization, jumped 8.2 percent to $567.77, the biggest gain since August, 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 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.
By Bill Rigby SEATTLE (Reuters) - Microsoft Corp's new chief executive got off to a winning start with Wall Street on Thursday as the world's largest software company eased past analysts' profit estimates despite the pressure of falling computer sales. Microsoft shares are up about 8 percent since company veteran Satya Nadella took over as CEO in early February, and are up 19 percent since his predecessor Steve Ballmer announced plans to retire last August, easily outpacing the Standard & Poor's 500 . Investors are excited about Nadella's focus on mobile and cloud, or Internet-based, computing, designed to take Microsoft beyond its traditional PC-based Windows business. "This quarter is a nice step in the right direction for Nadella and Microsoft," said Daniel Ives, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets.
By Deepa Seetharaman SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Amazon.com Inc's revenue grew more than expected for the first quarter, largely offset by a sharp increase in spending on technology, content and new warehouses as the e-commerce company branches into new businesses. Amazon's international unit, which accounts for 40 percent of sales, continued to be a drag as sales growth slowed to 18 percent during the quarter. Global unit sales, a closely watched measure of how many items Amazon has sold, also decelerated, rising only 23 percent. "A lot of the things that we've done - making sure that we have the right pricing in place on behalf of the customers, making sure that our service levels are where we need them to be - those are the things we continue to work on in China," Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak said during a conference call.
Visa Inc , the world's largest credit and debit card company, said U.S. sanctions on Russia were hurting its card transaction volumes and that revenue growth would slow further this quarter, sending its shares down 5 percent after the bell. Visa's quarterly revenue growth slid to a single digit in percentage terms for the first time in more than four years, due to a strong U.S. dollar. The company and rival MasterCard Inc stopped providing services to two Russian banks after U.S. President Barack Obama imposed sanctions on Russia in March after a standoff over Ukraine. "We are caught between the politics of the United States and the politics of Russia," Chief Financial Officer Byron Pollitt said on a post-earnings conference call on Thursday.