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Oct 25 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in The New York Times on Thursday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
* Economists say mortgage market troubles could, all told, cost financial firms and investors up to $400 billion. Experts caution that these estimates are preliminary and the total costs could get bigger still. * Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) has won a high-profile technology industry battle with Google Inc (GOOG.O) and Yahoo Inc YHOO.O to invest in the social networking upstart Facebook. The two companies said on Wednesday that Microsoft would pay $240 million for a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook.
* The tentative agreement between Chrysler LLC and the United Automobile Workers union appears headed for approval, after four big union locals in the Detroit area voted strongly in favor of the contract.
* Nearly 1,500 homes have been destroyed so far by the California fires, and hundreds more have been damaged. Financial analysts and insurance experts are estimating the potential costs to insurers to be about $1 billion.
* The House's leading Democratic tax writer will propose a sweeping overhaul of the tax code on Thursday that would increase taxes on many people with incomes above $200,000 but cut them for most others. The bill would also overhaul corporate taxes by eliminating many major tax breaks and lowering overall tax rates.
* Merrill Lynch & Co Inc's MER.N $7.9 billion write down raised questions about Chief Executive Stanley O'Neal's leadership and the ability of his top executives to manage the risky assets on the firm's balance sheet.
* China's sizzling economy grew 11.5 percent in the third quarter, surging ahead despite official efforts to cool the boom. China's growth rate put the nation on track to overtake Germany as the world's third-largest, according to data reported on Thursday.
* The Small Business Expansion Act of 2007, a bill that aims to help small businesses, is being criticized by some who say it allows venture capital companies to pose as small firms to tap into billions of federal research dollars.
* Shareholders blocked the Dolan family's $10.6 billion bid for Cablevision Systems, the largest rejection of a buyout ever. The outcome leaves Cablevision as an independent company, and it ends, for now, two years of work by the Dolans, the colorful dynasty that controls the cable empire, to take it private.
* Facing opposition to his proposed trade accords with Peru, Panama and Colombia from labor unions, social activist groups and many Democrats, President George W. Bush has unleashed an intense campaign to win approval for the deals, arguing that they will strengthen capitalism and democracy and weaken Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in a volatile region.
* Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) announced a shake-up of its investment bank, cutting 3,000 jobs and installing Brian Moynihan as its fourth leader in fewer than seven years. The announcement followed a terrible third quarter in which the investment banking unit's profit dropped 93 percent after virtually every area performed poorly.
* GlaxoSmithKline (GSK.L) said Wednesday that it would cut jobs as part of a major cost-savings plan after a sharp drop in sales of its diabetes drug and generic competition in the United States led to a 5.8 percent drop in quarterly profits.
* Boeing Co (BA.N) said on Wednesday that its third-quarter profit had risen more than expected, helped by higher deliveries of commercial aircraft, but the company scaled back its revenue forecast for next year because of delays involving its 787 Dreamliner and slowing growth at its military unit.