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Sprint gets a piece of Apple
Sprint Nextel
(NYSE: S), the third-largest U.S. phone carrier, announced it would start selling Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) new phone by mid-October. The much-expected iPhone 5 will help Sprint compete with both Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T (NYSE: T). The move will give AT&T more leverage as it seeks regulatory approval for its acquisition of T-Mobile. Verizon and AT&T will also carry the new phone. Those familiar with the matter have said that this would help Sprint retain its customers and improve its sales, which had been hindered by not offering the device before. But helping AT&T's regulations case could eventually hurt the company.

However, the date of the release will be later than expected by experts, who predicted Apple would release the phone within the next month. The October date will not help the technology giant's fourth quarter, which ends in September. Read more at The Wall Street Journal

No loss is forgiven
Technology companies have increasingly had to cut their losses sooner when a product fails to meet expectations. Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ), for example, pulled its Touchpad tablet seven weeks after it went on sale. The tablet was the Apple iPad's biggest competition, but patent lawsuits hindered the profitability of the Touchpad. Last year, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) pulled its Kin Mobile phones only 48 days after they went on sale. The trend has become to only stick with devices with instant success. But Microsoft's Xbox was a different story; the company faced difficulties when it was first released, but by persisting, Microsoft made the game console one of the best sold in the world -- a practice that seems to be in decline. Read more at The New York Times.

It's the pieces that matter
McGraw-Hill
(NYSE: MHP), which is involved in such varied activities like publishing books and rating bonds, is said to be worth 40% more if it is divided up and sold in pieces. The company has seen its valuation drop by a third since 2006. The main reasons were that federal and state budgets reduced the amount of textbooks that were bought and that the ratings on subprime mortgages were ultimately wrong. JPMorgan said its shareholders could get up to $5 billion more if the company is divided. The company, which also owns the Standard & Poor's rating agency, announced it would replace the president of this division after it downgraded the U.S. credit rating. Read more at Bloomberg.

Wall Street in a better rally
The stock market had an early rally after the Congressional Budget Office announced a better budget deficit forecast. The office reported a U.S. budget deal that would slash projected budget deficits by half. The government also announced new orders for long-lasting U.S. manufacturing products increased in July. The Dow Jones increased by 0.94%, the S&P 500 increased by 1.05%, while the Nasdaq went up by 0.93%. The rally largely dissipated into the afternoon. Bank of America, after being punished by the stock market, rose by 8.5%, offsetting Tuesday's losses. But the bank's stock price continues to be down by more than 30% this month. Read more at Reuters.

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!

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