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.

Today, Amazon.com (NAS: AMZN) released its long-awaited tablet named the Kindle Fire with a price tag of $199. The tablet has a 7-inch touchscreen, free data storage in the cloud, and access to a new Internet browser called Silk. CEO Jeff Bezos also revealed a new touchscreen Kindle that sells for $99 and the basic Kindle at a new price of $79. The low price poses a threat to Apple's iPad, which starts at $499 and Barnes & Noble's Nook Color, which sells for $249. Analysts had expected the tablet to cost around $250. Amazon's shares rose by 3.2% while Barnes & Noble went down by 6.2% in early trading. The tablet will be another gateway to Amazon's mountain of digital goods that could increase revenue from online retail sales. Read more atReuters.Or here atThe Motley Fool.

(NAS: AAPL) announced it will release the new version of the iPhone on Oct. 4. This will be the first release of a product since founder Steve Jobs stepped down as CEO. The new device is predicted to have a better camera and a faster processor than its predecessor. Since its first release in 2007, the iPhone has made up about half of Apple's revenue, giving the company the biggest push in its history.

The new phone could be Apple's best-selling product yet. The company is expected to sell about 110 million devices in 2012 after about 40 million were sold in the first half of this year. Apple has waited 16 months to release the new version compared to the usual 12 months, so this could lead to higher sales. Apple is expected to increase the number of carriers for the iPhone, adding Sprint Nextel (NYS: S) to the list. Read more atBloomberg.

Health insurers have increased their premiums by about 9% for family coverage through an employer. The new average cost for this type of policy reached $15,073 per year in 2011. The higher costs are putting a strain on customers who are also dealing with a struggling economy and a 9% unemployment rate. Premiums have nearly doubled since 2001, while wages have gone up by about 34% for the same time period. Aetna (NYS: AET) and UnitedHealth have said their premiums reflect actual hospital, physicians, and pharmacy costs. Whether the new health care policy is what helped push the prices up remains a point of debate with some people saying insurers hiked up prices before 2012, when the law will require them to justify the increase. Read more atThe New York Times.

As airlines consolidate and cut costs, many metro areas that don't house an air hub have seen a steep decrease in the availability of flights. Pittsburgh, for example, continues to pay $62 million in annual debt service on its airport, where large parts of it remain closed or unused since US Airways (NYS: LCC) left a void through its reductions. Southwest (NYS: LUV) , however, began operating from that airport, reducing the impact.

But the cuts could hurt a city beyond just losing flights. In Cincinnati's case, Chiquita Brands International has considered moving its headquarters of about 330 employees after seeing a reduction in flights offered by Delta (NYS: DAL) after it merged with Northwest Airlines. Chiquita is looking at metro areas with more access to the rest of the world. A strong contender is Charlotte, N.C., which has four times the number of flights. Read more atThe Wall Street Journal.

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 Apple.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Southwest Airlines, Apple, and Amazon.com.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. 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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