Afternoon Roundup: Today's Top Stories


AtThe Motley Fool, we know our readers like to be informed, so we've 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.

(NYS: HD) saw profits increase 14% in its second quarter. The largest home-improvement retailer said improving same-store sales and higher spending from customers fueled the improvement. The company got help from a rebound in its seasonal sales, which benefitted from better weather and storm-driven repairs. The company booked net income of $1.36 billion, up from $1.19 billion year over year. Home Depot raised its earnings forecast to $2.34 per share.

Analysts eager for a retail snapshot after the nation's downgrade paid close attention to Home Depot's results. But at the same time, rival Lowe's (NYS: LOW) reported a 0.2% drop in earnings, missing both analysts' and the company's expectations. Read more atThe Wall Street Journal.

Retail giant Wal-Mart (NYS: WMT) reported a net income of $3.8 billion for the second quarter, up from $3.6 billion a year earlier. The company said its profit had increased by 5.7%, while revenue rose 5.4%. Wal-Mart has been struggling with lower sales in the U.S., which CEO Mike Duke has attempted to combat by opening smaller stores and expanding Wal-Mart's online presence. Same-store sales held steady this quarter, after falling for the past eight. Read more atBloomberg.

Growth in European economies fell more than expected in the last three months, with the German economy dwindling down to a near-standstill. The numbers show that austerity programs may be curtailing the region's economic growth, which could make its debt crisis much more contagious. The European Union's gross domestic product (GDP) rose by 0.2% for the second quarter, while Euro area growth fell by 0.8%.

Most worryingly, Germany's GDP fell to 0.1% compared to the previous quarter; the country has thus far driven much of Europe's economy. Experts worry that the region's bigger, better-credited countries may become weaker, making the whole zone more vulnerable to fiscal instability. Read more at The New York Times.

After Google (NAS: GOOG) announced it would be buying Motorola Mobility (NYS: MMI) , many saw the end for Research In Motion (NAS: RIMM) . But some experts say the company may benefit from this deal, if it plays the right cards.

RIM had been struggling to curb the amount of users moving toward Apple (NAS: AAPL) products or phones by Samsung and HTC, which operate on Google's Android OS. Now that Google is buying a handset company and creating possible disruption with licensees, RIM looks all the more like a sturdy smartphone maker and a possible acquisition. Also, any disruption in the Android world will give RIM much-needed time to bolster its products. However, RIM will still face strong competition from Microsoft and Nokia's venture in to Windows-powered smartphones. Read more atThe Wall Street Journal.

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

At the time thisarticle was published The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, Wal-Mart Stores, and Research In Motion.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Lowe's Companies, Wal-Mart Stores, Google, Apple, and The Home Depot; creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart Stores; writing covered calls in Lowe's Companies; and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter servicesfree for 30 days.Fool contributor Michelle Zayed doesn't own any stocks mentioned.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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