By MATTHEW CRAFT, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Major stock indexes drifted between slight gains and losses in midday trading Tuesday, 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 inched up seven points to 12,510 as of noon Eastern. The broader Standard & Poor's 500 index was up three points at 1,317.
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 36 cents to $9.59 and Lennar rose 88 cents to $27.46.
"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 6 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 jumped $1.29 to $21.37.
Apollo Group, a for-profit education company which operates the University of Phoenix, soared 8 percent, after the company reported quarterly income that was far larger than analysts had expected. The company's stock rose $2.41 to $34.89.
In other trading, the Nasdaq composite index rose nine points to 2,846.
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.
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