Stock Market Today: A Brief Bounce and a 135% Winner

The stock market today is recovering from yet another ugly trading session as investors prepare for the European Union summit later this week. Yesterday all three major U.S. stock indexes were down more than 1%.

Sending the markets slightly higher today was a modestly encouraging home prices report. Home prices, measured by the S&P/Case Shiller index, rose for the first time in seven months, as prices in April rose 1.3% on a non-seasonally adjusted basis.

The index, which is based on a three-month average of prices, measures property values in 20 cities. Annual prices were still down 1.9% from April 2011, but that is the smallest year-over-year decline since November 2010.

The rally was brief as poor consumer confidence numbers sent the markets back down.
Confidence among consumers declined to 62 in June marking the fourth straight month the reading has fallen.

Analysts had expected a level above 63 but the Conference Board's index fell due to job and income growth expectations. Those sentiments can be seen in the Board's gauge of expectations for the next six months which fell to 72.3 from 77.3, its lowest level since last November.

With today's mixed reports here are some stocks that are faring well - and one that is having a monster day.

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News Corp (Nasdaq: NWSA) confirmed reports Tuesday that is considering splitting into two companies, one based in entertainment and the other focused on publishing.

The split would create two distinct publicly traded companies, one centered around the 20th Century Fox film studio, Fox broadcast network and Fox News Channel and the other comprised of newspapers and book publishing such as The Wall Street Journal, The Times of London, The New York Post and publisher Harper Collins.

News Corp. Chairman Robert Murdoch has previously opposed the idea of splitting, which has been talked about internally for years. Apparently he is seeing the proposition in a different light.

Maybe the recent phone hacking scandal surrounding the company's British newspaper operations, which resulted in the closure of the News of the World tabloid, has something to do with it. Or maybe the fact that the Murdoch family will still control roughly 40% of the new businesses.

Either way shareholders like the idea of a split as News Corp. stock rose more than 6% by noon.

Apollo Group Inc. (Nasdaq: APOL), the for-profit education operator of the University of Phoenix, reported better-than-expected fiscal third-quarter numbers after Monday's closing bell.

For the three-month period that ended May 31 enrollment, net income and revenue were down for Apollo, but the recent numbers still beat analysts' expectations and sent the stock higher today.

Net income for the fiscal third quarter was $1.13 per share, down from $1.51 in the same period a year ago, but better than the expected 97 cents a share. For the first nine months of its fiscal year, Apollo's revenue was $3.3 billion, down from $3.6 billion in the same period last year.

Apollo cited an expected drop in enrollment at University of Phoenix for the lower numbers as enrollment fell 13% and new degree enrollment fell 8% over the past year. The University of Phoenix is currently under investigation by attorney generals in Massachusetts, Florida and Delaware for unfair and deceptive methods related to the recruitment of students and the financing of education.

Due to those investigations Apollo has been trying to focus its business strategy away from the aggressive recruiting tactics and focus more on retaining existing students.

Apollo stock was up 8% as of noon.

Supernus Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: SUPN) is today's biggest gainer after the company received tentative approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its epilepsy treatment Trokendi XR drug.

Trokendi is an extended release version of Johnson & Johnson's (NYSE: JNJ) Topomax which is off patent protection and available generically.

Supernus said the final approval of its drug depends on resolving a marketing exclusivity issue raised by the FDA regarding a specific pediatric population.

Supernus is a specialty pharmaceutical company focused on developing and commercializing products for the treatment of central nervous system diseases, including neurological and psychiatric disorders. The company went public in May with a $5 share price.

The stock skyrocketed today to an all-time high of $15.09 before setting to $13.56 as of noon for an intraday gain of more than 135%.

The Dow Jones today was up 8 points, or 0.07% by noon and the S&P 500 was up 3 points or 0.25%.

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