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Unemployment crushes hopes of faster recovery
Despite encouraging numbers released on Wednesday, the U.S. added a meager 18,000 jobs for the month of June. The disappointing increase helped push the unemployment rate back up to 9.2%, the highest it has been this year. Analysts expected an addition of almost 90,000 jobs.

The discouraging number has taken a toll on the stock market, with the S&P 500 Index down as of this writing. Bonds have also fallen. Companies such as Gannett, publisher of dozens of newspapers including USA Today, announced during the month of June that it would be cutting nearly 700 jobs. Defense contractor Lockheed Martin said on June 30 that it planned to cut 1,500 positions.

A higher unemployment rate could hurt retailers since consumer spending may fall as fewer Americans are able to get jobs. Read more at Bloomberg.

Mortgage lawsuit being scaled back
Investors sued Countrywide Financial, a company of Bank of America (NYSE: BAC), for $351 billion, but they may have to settle for a lot less. The judge handling the case reduced the lawsuit to $2.6 billion and dropped the parent company as a defendant.

This adds to the trend of lawsuits being contained in favor of the banks since many plaintiffs have failed to prove how they have been hurt. However, other banks have decided to settle with the plaintiffs. On July 6, Wells Fargo agreed to pay $125 million to settle claims by investors who were misled about the risks of mortgage-backed securities. Read more at Bloomberg.

Free music no more
Internet users who download or share pirated music and movies may be getting warnings from their Internet service providers. In a coalition between major film studios, record labels, and ISPs, users who engage in illegal downloading will get messages saying their connection will be slowed down if there is continuous infringement.

Those who have agreed to the Copyright Alert System include Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA), AT&T (NYSE: T), Time Warner Cable, Cablevision Systems (NYSE: CVC), and Verizon Communications (NYSE: VZ). Only Comcast has said it did not plan to cut user services under this agreement; all other companies declined to say. This could potentially lead to better revenue for record labels and major filmmakers, as users who fear a connection slowdown may turn to legal purchasing of products. Read more at The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

Ignore oil from Alberta
One of the biggest oil reserves found in the 21st century is very close to home. The Alberta, Canada, oil sands produce 1.5 million barrels of daily oil export -- but the U.S. may not want more of it. The reason behind rejecting this oil reserve is mainly environmental. The region's oil is gleaned from bitumen, a tar-like substance that requires an energy-intensive process and the creation of greenhouse gases to extract. Because of this, the U.S. is ambivalent about stretching a pipeline that could double imports.

The oil industry is not as picky, and oil magnates including ExxonMobil (NYSE: XOM) and Royal Dutch Shell (NYSE: RDS-A) have already invested in oil sands and are expanding production. If the U.S. does not want to build the pipeline, there are still plenty of takers, including China. Enbridge is currently the company hoping to take on the project. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

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 Fool owns shares of and has opened a short position on Bank of America. The Fool owns shares of and has created a ratio put spread position on Wells Fargo. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of AT&T. 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.