Afternoon Roundup: Today's Top Stories


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.

The Federal Reserve announced on Tuesday it would keep interest rates at all-time lows until at least mid-2013. But Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke encountered some opposition to his aggressive cheap-money policy. Historically, the Fed has been mostly unanimous on its decisions, so the dissent from three heads of banks was surprising. Bernanke said the Fed's main goal is to improve recovery but warned they may see weaker growth than estimated. The Fed has not ruled out more aggressive measures, hinting at the possibility of another bond-buying program. Other bank leaders worry the low rates may fuel inflation down the road. Read more atReuters.

(NYS: COF) announced it would buy HSBC's (NYS: HBC) credit card unit for about $2.6 billion. Capital One said it would raise about $1.25 billion in equity in hopes of enticing consumers to take out new loans. With the sale of its credit card unit in the U.S., HSBC is one more step toward a narrower banking focus.

With the purchase, Capital One will become the third largest issuer of private label credit cards. The deal is expected to be paid out in cash unless markets continue to be choppy where Capital One would buy $750 million in HSBC stock.

Capital One bought ING's online banking business in June while HSBC sold 195 retail-banking branches to First Niagara Financial for $1 billion in cash. Read more atThe Wall Street Journal.

After being criticized by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Groupon dropped its controversial accounting metric called "adjusted consolidated segment operating income." This measure subtracted marketing and acquisition costs from its operating performance. The metric was deemed misleading but as reported by Dealbook the company will still use it internally. With a new metric, which takes in to account marketing costs, the company lost $62.3 million for the second quarter.

Despite the amendment, the company showed it could still grow with a jump in both revenue and its subscriber base. Nonetheless, the online bargain hunter faces mounting competition not only from LivingSocial but new players such as Google and Amazon (NAS: AMZN) . Read more atDealbook.

(NYS: M) and Polo Ralph Lauren (NYS: RL) reported strong quarterly numbers, showing consumers were spending before the credit downgrade. Macy's had a 64% increase in earnings due to better sales and efforts to make stores more appealing. Polo, which sells much of its merchandise through Macy's, reported a 52% increase in earnings. But leaders of both companies cautioned against predicting increasing earnings in an unstable market. Earnings from competitors Kohl's and J.C. Penney are expected later this week. Read more atThe Wall Street Journal.

After an encouraging rally yesterday after the Fed announced it would keep interest rates down, financial stocks are on a downfall again, wiping out most of the previous day's gains. Losing the most are Bank of America (NYS: BAC) with a 5.6% decrease, Citigroup (NYS: C) with 5.5%, and JPMorgan down 3%. The slump was triggered by increasing fears over the European debt c risis and the possibility that France could be the next nation to witness a credit downgrade. Read more atThe New York Times.

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

At the time thisarticle was published Michelle Zayed doesn't own any stocks mentioned.The Fool owns shares of and has opened a short position on Bank of America.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of 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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