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Bank of America could cut 40,000 jobs
In an initial wave of restructuring to cut costs, Bank of America (NYSE: BAC) could cut as many as 40,000 jobs. CEO Brian Moynihan had told investors he aimed to save as much as $1.5 billion per quarter. The job cuts, which would take place over an undetermined number of years, join other measures taken in previous months as part of the bank's attempt to become leaner. Competitors such as JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) and Citigroup have much smaller workforces. The cuts will most likely to come from the consumer side of the operations; the company currently has roughly 160,000 consumer-related positions. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

Google buys Zagat
Internet giant Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) bought the review service Zagat Survey in a deal whose terms were not disclosed. Zagat rates establishments from hotels to retailers to restaurants. The purchase will allow Google to offer a mix of reviews from different users, and puts a dent in similar competitor Yelp. The deal will also intensify Google's competition with restaurant reservation specialist OpenTable (Nasdaq: OPEN) and daily deals providers Groupon and LivingSocial.

Experts say buying Zagat represents Google's effort to offer more local information. The transaction could hurt competitors like OpenTable, which get their traffic mainly from Google and Yelp. Earlier this year, Yelp and Expedia (Nasdaq: EXPE) accused Google of stealing their content to use in Google Places features. The tech company subsequently removed the reviews. Read more at Bloomberg.

And the winner is: Apple
(Nasdaq: AAPL) scored a monumental win in Germany as a court upheld the decision to ban the sale of Samsung's Galaxy tablet in the country. The two companies have been entangled in patent disputes over smartphone and tablet patents since April. Samsung's devices are seen as one of the best competitors of the iPad maker. The injunction will prohibit German Samsung from selling the device, but retailers will be allowed to sell it if they have remaining stock, or the device comes from South Korean orders. Apple filed for a similar injunction in the Netherlands, but the court there found no patent infringement. Samsung said it was disappointed with the German decision because it stifles innovation. Read more at Reuters.

Markets react to Obama's plan
After President Obama's speech, in which he asked Congress to approve a jobs plan that would extend tax cuts, markets fell sharply during early trading. By midday, the S&P 500 had fallen sharply, by 2.5%, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average (INDEX: ^DJI) fell by 2.6% and the Nasdaq dropped by 2.27%. European markets were also down by 2% to 4% by late afternoon. Uncertainty about the measure and whether it would pass piled on top of the euro-related uncertainty already pressuring markets. The fall came despite Obama's proposals for spending on small businesses and tax holidays. The president will deliver the detailed plan to Congress in a week. Read more at The New York Times. 

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!

Michelle Zayed doesn't own any stocks mentioned.The Motley Fool owns shares of Google, Apple, Bank of America, and JPMorgan Chase. Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended buying shares of OpenTable, Google, and Apple. Motley Fool newsletter serviceshave recommended creating a bull call spread position in Apple. 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.