At The Motley Fool, we know our readers like to be informed, so we've rounded up today's most relevant news items on one convenient page. We hope you find this midday edition informative and useful.

U.S. looking into homebuilders 
In what some see as greater government vigilance, the U.S. Department of Labor requested records of all employees in the past two years at PulteGroup (NYSE: PHM), Lennar (NYSE: LEN), D.R. Horton (NYSE: DHI) and KB Home (NYSE: KBH). The department is investigating an apparent violation of labor rights concerning underpayment and unsafe working conditions. The builders must provide all of these employees' names, Social Security numbers, addresses, pay rates, and number of hours worked.

Critics of the probe said the government may be overstepping boundaries by asking for the records. Others said that examining the subcontractors, the lifeline of homebuilding companies, could hurt the business considerably. In most states, builders are not responsible for violations of workers' rights perpetrated their subcontractors. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

After Bartz, Yahoo! is buyout target
Carol Bartz's departure from Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO) on Sept. 6 has made the company a potential acquisition for companies ranging from Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) to Alibaba Group Holding. Bartz was ousted after less than three years at the top position, leaving the company valued at $16 billion, down from a peak of nearly $80 billion. Yahoo! has lost value after giving up advertising revenue to Google and Facebook. Its cheaper price tag could make an acquisition worthwhile, but the company may decide to sell its stakes in Alibaba Group and Yahoo! Japan, rather than sell the company as a whole. After the Bartz firing, the stock price rose 5.4% yesterday. Read more at Bloomberg.

Recession fears
The U.S. seems to have entered a vicious cycle that could lead to a second setback for the country's economy. Consumers' rising fears make them hold back on spending, which leads to less hiring ... and therefore less spending. Experts put the country's odds of sliding into a double-dip recession between 25% and 40%, though all say that such events are very hard to predict. But the continuing pressure from Europe's debt crisis, and a weak economy that's unable to keep with population growth, paint a grim future. Read more at The New York Times.

BP's gold mine
BP
(NYSE: BP) announced that one of its first wells drilled after last year's Deepwater Horizon disaster has yielded oil in a previously untested area. The company estimates the field could hold around 4 billion barrels of oil and natural gas. The discovery comes as CEO Bob Dudley faced pressure to find ways to expand the company's holdings. BHP Billiton drilled the well on BP's behalf. The discovery comes after Chevron announced a potentially big finding in another field in the area, where BP is also a partner. Last week, BP's hopes of exploration in the Russian Arctic in cooperation with OAO Rosneft were crushed when ExxonMobil announced a tie up with the Russian company. Read more at The 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 for My Watchlist here -- it's free!

Michelle Zayed doesn't own any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft and Yahoo!. Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of Yahoo! and Microsoft, and creating a bull call spread position in Microsoft. 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 insightsmakes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.