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.

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The largest personal computer maker unveiled a new computer today, just days after announcing it may spin off its PC business. Hewlett-Packard's (NYS: HPQ) new release helped lift the company's stock price after falling 20% on Friday. According to the company, the latest business-elite computer can deliver up to 15% faster hard drive access and 40% better performance due to off-base data management. The computer, which is also energy-efficient, was designed for face-to-face interaction and online conferences.

Hewlett-Packard said it would consider the spin-off as a result of a change in the market where the focus moved from personal computers to mobile devices -- an area where the company has underperformed. Read more atThe Wall Street Journal.

Home improvement store Lowe's (NYS: LOW) set aside $5 billion to buy back its shares over the next two to three years. The company joins the trend as more companies stack up their stock in a weak economy. Lowe's stock had been falling 23% over the past year due to discouraging earnings and less consumer spending. It is unclear if the share repurchase, which is one-fifth of the company's shares, will be able to boost its price overall. U.S. companies have gone on a shopping spree amid fears the economy will continue declining. As of Aug. 11, companies had bought back $305.2 billion in shares this year. Read more atReuters.

The largest automaker of electric cars, Toyota, announced it would be working with Ford (NYS: F) to develop a hybrid for light trucks and sport utility vehicles. Both companies agreed to work on the system as well as in-car communications and Internet systems.

Ford is looking to increase the sales of hybrid cars in the U.S. to more than 100,000 by 2013. The company has tried to reinvent itself by offering better fuel efficiency and more compact models like the Ford Fiesta. The companies plan to start developing the vehicle next year in the U.S. and don't plan to offer a gasoline-only alternative. Read more atBloomberg.

's (NYS: RDS.A) and PetroChina's (NYS: PTR) joint venture announced it had made an offer for Australian coal seams producer Bow Energy. The announcement calmed worries that the two companies did not have enough coal seams reserves in Australia to support a bigger export operation in the area. The announcement did not specify how much the offer would be, but Bow Energy said Shell had offered $540 million to acquire the company. Coal seam gas is one of the most sought after product in the energy market today. Read more atThe Wall Street Journal.

A blood thinner developed by Pfizer (NYS: PFE) and Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYS: BMY) may become the biggest seller in a multibillion-dollar market. The drug, Eliquis, is expected to debut at Europe's top medical meeting next week. The hype for Eliquis came after results showed it was better and safer than previous drugs at preventing strokes in heart patients. The success of the drug could bring in 50% of the $9 billion market and put both companies in better financial positions. Both Pfizer and Bristol face patent expiration, which could cost them $30 billion in revenue loss. Read more atReuters. 

So there you have it, the top financial stories for this afternoon. If you are interested in getting all the news and commentary on these stocks sign up to My Watchlisthere -- it's free!

At the time this article was published Michelle Zayed doesn't own any stocks mentioned.The Motley Fool owns shares of Ford Motor.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Pfizer, Lowe's Companies, and Ford Motor.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended writing covered calls in Lowe's Companies. 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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