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.

Retail giant Wal-Mart (NYS: WMT) has had some upsets with online selling, but the company is seeing some success in its digital movie downloads. After buying online streaming company Vudu, the venture has become the third most popular of these sites. Vudu allows consumers to rent or buy movies. Vudu, with a 5.3% share of this market, still falls far behind Apple's (NAS: AAPL) iTunes, with a 65.8% share, and Microsoft's (NAS: MSFT) Zune Video marketplace, with a 16.2% market share. But Vudu's success has put it ahead of similar offerings from Sony and Amazon, which trail behind.

Unlike Netflix (NAS: NFLX) , Vudu lets the costumer own the movie after paying for the download instead of a monthly fee. Wal-Mart bought Vudu last year for a reported $100 million. Read more atThe Wall Street Journal.

At the European Cardiology Society's conference in Paris, the guest of honor was Eliquis, a blood-thinning drug developed by Pfizer (NYS: PFE) and Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYS: BMY) . It proved a success at lowering the risk of major bleeding on stroke-preventing drugs. The twice-a-day pill is an alternative to warfarin and has 11% less risk. Eliquis is the first drug to reduce the risk so dramatically.

The success at the conference marked a very important gain for the two pharmaceutical companies. Eliquis could take 60% of the market share for blood thinners and rake in sales between $7 billion to $9 billion on the drug alone. Physicians at the conference were pleased with the new drug. Read more atBloomberg.

Consumer spending rose by 0.8%, according to the Commerce Department, indicating that the economy is not falling back in to a recession. The increase also surpassed analyst expectations of 0.5%. When adjusted for inflation, the index rose by 0.5%, which is the biggest rise since November 2009. Read more atReuters.

Companies racked big profits on the first half of the year, but with a dimming economic outlook ahead, the challenges keep adding up. Many companies have laid off employees and cut operation costs almost down to the bone. If there were to be another slowdown, corporations would have little fat to trim. But many still have reasonable amounts of cash, which would help them weather a slowdown but won't give them a much needed demand for products. Experts said the main problem is that companies have thin order books and therefore are looking to emerging markets, moving away from Europe and the U.S. One example is medical-device maker Medtronic (NYS: MDT) , which cut 2,000 jobs in the U.S. and Europe but plans to add more than 1,500 in emerging markets. The company saw 20% in revenue in these areas. 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 thisarticle was published Fool contributor Michelle Zayed doesn't own any stocks mentioned.The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft, Apple, Wal-Mart Stores, and Medtronic.Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Wal-Mart Stores, Microsoft, Pfizer, Netflix, and Apple.Theyhave also recommended buying puts in aNetflix; creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft and Apple; and creating a diagonal call position in Wal-Mart Stores. 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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