At The 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.

Wall Street rallies on strong earnings
Stocks rose in the first hours of trading thanks to encouraging earning reports from big retail companies like Target (NYSE: TGT) and Staples. However, those gains have dissipated as I write this, with the Dow Jones (DJI: ^DJI) flat, the S&P slightly up, and the Nasdaq down 0.5%. Read more at Reuters.

Amazon on a new venture
Online retail giant (Nasdaq: AMZN) announced it would begin publishing books in earnest as well as selling them. The company announced its first author would be self-advice writer Timothy Ferriss, known for best-selling books like "The 4-Hour Work Week." Amazon began pushing for this new venture when the company hired editor and agent Laurence Kirshbaum.

The new venture comes as a threat to traditional book publishers and sellers, two groups that have already suffered the aftermath of an online book business. Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) has attempted to compete with Amazon with its own e-book reader, while companies like Borders fell out of the race and filed for bankruptcy. Amazon will publish Ferris' book in the spring in hard copy, e-book, and audio book formats. Read more at The New York Times.

Online games speeding up
Online games have kicked up their growth a notch and are now a threat to companies that require a gaming console. Games like Rift developed by Trion Worlds have added a million users since its March release. The console makers also have threats from Rovio's Angry Birds and Zynga's Farmville, which have added millions of players and downloads from computers and handheld devices.

However, some of these companies have tried to innovate to keep up with the market. Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI), maker of World of Warcraft, has more than 11 million players. Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is trying to make its console more appealing, the company was able to boost sales of its Xbox by adding the motion sensor and now plans to add voice control by December. Electronic Arts (Nasdaq: ERTS) bought Playfish and PopCap, two online social gaming developers, to enter the online market. Read more at Bloomberg. 

Foster's takeover
, the second largest brewer in the world, has made a bid of $9.97 billion for Australian brewery Foster's Group. But the bid came with contention, considering it was made as an off-market cash offer to shareholders. The price was the same as one rejected by the Foster's board in June. The offer is the largest since Heineken bought Mexican brewer Femsa this year marking a consolidation in the beer industry.

SABMiller's hostile bid comes after allegedly trying to deal with the Foster's board with no result. Foster's has been seen as a takeover target for a while, raising speculations whether other bidders may come up. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

European banks unhappy with new proposal
Major banks in Europe criticized the Franco-German plan to implement a levy on financial transactions that would be passed on to their customers. The Association for Financial Markets in Europe, which includes Deutsche Bank (NYSE: DB) and BNP Paribas, said financial institutions should not be seen as a source of tax revenue. Opposition to the plan came mainly from the U.K. and Sweden, which argue that such a plan would have no positive effect unless implemented worldwide. The U.K. financial system also said that banks could move their locations in order to avoid the levy. Read more at Bloomberg. 

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 Watchlist here -- it's free!

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.