PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - Jan 23

viernes 23 de enero de 2009 06:16 CET

Jan 23 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in The Wall Street Journal on Friday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

* Pfizer (PFE.N: Cotización) is in talks to acquire rival drug maker Wyeth WYE.N in a deal that could be valued at more than $60 billion.

* Some major companies are boosting the value of top executives' retirement plans by using a generous formula when converting a pension into a single payment. The practice can increase a pension's value by 10 percent to 40 percent.

* John Thain agreed to step down from a top job at Bank of America Corp (BAC.N: Cotización) after CEO Kenneth Lewis asked the former Merrill chief to resign.

* Federal Reserve officials are likely next week to stick closely to their approach for handling the financial crisis -- near-zero interest rates and a focus on special lending programs -- despite internal rifts about some of their tactics.

* Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O: Cotización) plans to cut as many as 5,000 jobs over the next 18 months amid weakening demand for its software. The company's quarterly profit fell 11 percent.

* Google Inc (GOOG.O: Cotización) posted a 68 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit, dragged down in part by its investment in AOL, but sales were strong despite the worsening economy.

* The unusual nature of how Bernard Madoff's alleged $50 billion Ponzi scheme surfaced -- with a confession from the key figure himself -- is complicating a high-profile investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

* New-home construction fell sharply in December, the Commerce Department said Thursday, and a drop-off in permits for future projects suggests the declines will continue.   Continuación...