Stocks edge up on Wall Street in afternoon trading

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Associated Press

Posted on June 26, 2012 at 12:00 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 26 at 2:32 PM

NEW YORK (AP) — Major stock indexes edged up Tuesday afternoon following steep losses the day before. Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. surged after the media conglomerate said it may split into two companies.

The Dow Jones industrial average rose 59 points to 12,562 shortly after 2 p.m. Eastern. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index rose 9 points to 1,323.

Housing stocks climbed after a measure of national home prices rose 1.3 percent between March and April, the first increase in seven months.

The Standard & Poor's/Case-Shiller home price index showed a rise in 19 out of the 20 major cities tracked. PulteGroup rose 58 cents to $9.81 and Lennar rose $1.31 to $27.89.

"There's some good news out there, especially if you look at the housing market," said John De Clue, regional investment director of U.S. Bank's wealth management unit in Minneapolis. "But there's this overriding theme: concerns over global growth. Things are pretty much slowing everywhere you look."

News Corp. jumped 8 percent. The company confirmed that it's contemplating a breakup into two publicly traded companies. The split would divide its publishing from its entertainment businesses. The media empire includes The Wall Street Journal, Fox News Channel, and newspapers in Britain and Australia. News Corp.'s stock leaped $1.64 to $21.73.

In other trading, the Nasdaq composite index rose 22 points to 2,858.

Investors sold a variety of coal companies after S&P lowered the credit rating for James River Coal deeper into junk status, citing weaker demand for coal. Utilities have favored natural gas instead of coal to generate electricity. They are also preparing for new emission standards. James River plunged 16 percent, or 50 cents, to $2.43.

Alpha Natural Resources lost 5 percent, the biggest fall in the S&P 500. Its stock sank 43 cents, to $7.50. Peabody Energy dropped 3 percent, or 72 cents, to $20.75.

More worrisome developments in Europe kept U.S. markets in check. Spain's borrowing costs jumped in a pair of short-term debt auctions, the latest sign that investors are hesitant to lend the country money. The interest rate on the country's 3-month bills was 2.36 percent Tuesday, nearly triple the rate in the last such auction in May.

Spain's main stock index sank 1.5 percent, the second day straight of deep losses, and the yield on its benchmark 10-year government bond rose to 6.81 percent. The slump in Spanish financial markets came a day after the credit rating agency Moody's lowered ratings on 28 Spanish banks.

Stock markets fell sharply in the U.S. and Europe on Monday as Europe's latest efforts to calm its financial crisis sapped investors' confidence. Spain's formal request for help for its banking systems left many questions unanswered, including how much money it would ask for. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 138 points.

Among other stocks making big moves Tuesday, Apollo Group, a for-profit education company which operates the University of Phoenix, soared 9 percent. The company reported quarterly income that was far larger than analysts had expected. The company's stock rose $3 to $34.52.

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