Market relief at lack of 'bombshell'

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The Murdoch family was $300m richer at the end of Rupert and James Murdoch's grilling by the parliamentary select committee than it had been when they first sat down, as investors parsed the hearings for clues on the future of the family's grip on its media empire.

Shares in the family-controlled News Corp ticked higher on the stock market while the hearings went on without revelations that might hit the company's bottom line.

Analysts said concerns about the implications for the company have been overblown – and that, if the scandal does escalate, then the board's independent directors could push out Rupert Murdoch as chief executive and restructure the firm in a shareholder-friendly way.

On Monday, after a weekend of resignations from inside the company and at Scotland Yard, News Corp shares had plunged, and the value of the Murdoch family's controlling stake had fallen below $5bn. It was down 17 per cent since it first emerged that News of the World journalists had hacked into Milly Dowler's voicemail.

News Corp shares had risen 6 per cent by the end of the hearing, and they spiked even higher during afternoon trading in New York when it was reported that the company's independent board members have hired a law firm to advise them on their responsibilities as the investigation into the scandal continues.