Afternoon Roundup: Today's Top Stories

At The Motley Fool, we know our readers like to be informed. So we have scouted out today's most relevant news items and brought them to you all in one page. We hope you find this midday edition informative and useful.

Soros steps out of the game
Multibillionaire George Soros has decided to close his hedge fund and return the money to his clients. After almost 40 years in the business, Soros will close the $25.5 billion fund, handing back less than $1 billion to outside investors. The firm will now focus on managing Soros' and his family's assets. His sons Jonathan and Robert said they had decided to close the fund before new financial regulations forced them to register the firm with the Securities and Exchange Commission, even though they had been managing mostly family assets since 2000.

Soros is known for having made $1 billion after betting the Bank of England would have to devalue the pound. Keith Andersen, chief investment officer since 2008, will be leaving the fund. Read more at Bloomberg.

Ford's mixed results
Ford
(NYSE: F  ) announced it had a second-quarter profit loss of nearly 8% due to the struggles of improving its car models while paying higher prices for commodities. Despite shortage challenges after the Japan disaster and a low operating profit in Europe, the automaker was able to generate $0.65 per share after excluding some items. This exceeded analysts' expectations of $0.60.

The automaker said it expected to have lower results in the second half as it expects commodities costs to continue rising and will have more expenses on research of new models. The results come days before Ford has to sit at the table with the United Auto Workers union to hammer out a new labor contract. Ford is more vulnerable than General Motors (NYSE: GM  ) or Chrysler in the talks since it has no bankruptcy court protection. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

Chrysler still struggling
Even though Chrysler got rid of government ownership in the second quarter, it still faces problems of profitability. Its net loss widened to $370 million, compared to a net loss of $172 million for the same period last year. But the loss included a one-time charge of $551 million to pay off loans to the U.S. and Canadian governments.

The automaker had an increase in sales of 19%, selling 486,000 cars and trucks worldwide. Unlike its rivals, the bulk of the company's sales are in North America. The company decreased its outlook for 2011, saying it may break even or post a small loss mainly due to its debt payments. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

New home prices rise
Though single-family house sales volume fell, the 7.2% increase in median price compared to last year gives a positive outlook. The situation continues to be complicated considering sales are still slipping and consumer confidence is not at expected levels. But some analysts say it may be the beginning of the recovery after hitting rock-bottom prices. Others are more skeptical, saying it is still difficult to predict growth while most of the sector continues to be depressed. New home sale prices are being anchored by previously owned homes that are selling well below their value. Read more at Reuters.

Congress deadlock pulls down market
Congress' continuous disagreement over whether to raise the debt ceiling has created uncertainty in the markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 89.04 points, or 0.71%, by midmorning.

The lack of a plan has left Wall Street on pause while waiting to see if a catastrophic default will become a reality. Strong earnings have been one reason for the month's gains, with examples such as Lockheed Martin (NYSE: LMT  ) rising by 3% at the open of the market and UPS (NYSE: UPS  ) posting a 26% increase in earnings. Read more at The New York Times.

So there you have it, the top financial stories for this afternoon. Check Fool.com throughout the day for commentary on these and other stories. Also follow us on Twitter, on Facebook, or through our email digests.

Michelle Zayed owns no shares of any companies mentioned in the story. The Motley Fool owns shares of United Parcel Service, Ford Motor, and Lockheed Martin. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of General Motors and Ford Motor. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.


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