Afternoon Roundup: Today's Top Stories

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AtThe Motley Fool, we know our readers like to be informed. We have scouted out today's most relevant news items and brought them to you all on one page. We hope you find this midday edition informative and useful.

A closer look for Google
The Federal Trade Commission is narrowing down its investigation on key parts of  Google's (NAS: GOOG) business, including its Android smartphone software. Antitrust regulators are looking into allegations that Google may be using its power over the Internet to promote its own services. Some claims include blocking competitor websites through Android, using content from other pages for Google products, and promoting Google pages on the company's search engine.

Though the probe could take as long as a year to move on, Google has already made some changes in its business. The Internet giant has made tweaks to the search engine and removed any content from other sites from its own products. Read more atThe Wall Street Journal.

(NAS: CSCO) shares rose the most in five years after the company reported numbers that beat analyst estimates. Excluding some costs, profit rose by $0.40 per share for the fourth quarter. But counting in those costs, profit fell by nearly 36%. Nonetheless, the technology giant seems to be getting hold of the reins in an uncertain market. The company is undergoing a cost-cutting program, which includes laying off 6,500 employees worldwide and shutting down a factory in Mexico. Cisco said it is looking to focus on the most profitable part of its business with five priorities: routing and switching, workplace collaboration, data centers, video, and architecture that integrates the network. Read more atBloomberg.

French banks keep falling amid worries on their outlook, dragging down a European index of stocks. Societe General has fallen 4.1% in intraday trading today after closing down 15% on Wednesday. BNP Paribas, France's biggest bank, has fallen 3.6%. The banking industry is Europe's second worst sector hit by the financial turmoil. The debt and currency crisis has been spreading through Europe, with France and Germany leading many of the bailouts around the continent. Read more atReuters.

With billions of dollars under their watch, hedge funds are in a difficult position during a very volatile market. John A. Paulson, the man who made billions during the 2007-2008 crisis, has had one fund lose more than 30% in value this year. Paulson's holdings in Bank of America (NYS: BAC) and Citigroup (NYS: C) have been the anchor around the fund's neck. Another loser is Bill Ackman's Pershing Square Management, which has large holdings in Citigroup and J.C. Penney (NYS: JCP) , two big losers this week.

But not all have been losers. Ray Dalio's Bridgewater Associates has had $3.5 billion, or 5% in gains, in its flagship fund in just a week by betting on safe heavens like gold and the Swiss franc. Read more atDealbookandThe Wall Street Journal.

Since the financial crisis in 2008, companies have been hoarding cash for harder times. After a week of roller-coaster market activity, many companies feel ready to handle it. Non-financial companies were holding $1.12 trillion in cash and short-term investments, up from $703 billion for the third quarter of 2008. Some of the hoarders include Microsoft (NAS: MSFT) , with $52.8 billion as of June 30, and Acorda Therapeutics (NAS: ACOR) , with $228 million in cash. Companies have said they will be more conservative with their spending in what they deem a risky environment. Cash hoarding may be a security for the companies, but for the overall economy, it may be detrimental with less projects and spending to restart it. Read more atThe Wall Street Journal. 

So there you have it, the top financial stories for this afternoon. Check Fool.com throughout the day for commentary on these and other stories. Also, follow us onTwitter, onFacebook, or through ouremail digests.

At the time this article was published Michelle Zayed doesn't own any stocks mentioned.The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Microsoft. The Fool owns shares of and has opened a short position on Bank of America. The Fool owns shares of and has created a bull call spread position on Cisco Systems.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Google, Cisco Systems, and Microsoft, as well as creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe thatconsidering a diverse range of insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has adisclosure policy.

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