Oct 29 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in The Wall Street Journal on Monday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
* Merrill Lynch & Co Inc’s MER.N Stan O’Neal was negotiating the terms of his departure as chief executive officer in the wake of a multibillion-dollar writeoff at the firm. His resignation would be the most dramatic fallout yet from the global credit crunch triggered by the subprime mortgage mess.
* Multinationals such as Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O), Coca-Cola Co (KO.N) and Procter & Gamble Co (PG.N), which benefit from the strong global economy, are boosting major stock indexes. However, many other stocks, notably financial institutions and smaller companies, reliant on the U.S. consumer have been hit, suggesting support for prices may be thin.
* Blackstone Group LP (BX.N) has lured Host Hotels & Resorts Inc’ (HST.N) Chief Executive Christopher Nassetta to lead its recently acquired Hilton Hotels Corp as it pursues an ambitious growth strategy.
* Ford Motor Co (F.N) this week moves to the center of labor talks with the United Auto Workers after the union narrowly ratified a new contract with Chrysler LLC. The UAW said the four-year Chrysler contract was approved by 56 percent of the production workers who voted, and 51 percent of the skilled tradesmen who voted.
* Microsoft’s stake in Facebook Inc is likely to boost the social-networking firm’s stock options, and could make it more difficult to hire talented employees.
* Oracle Corp ORCL.O let its $17-a-share offer for BEA Systems Inc BEAS.O expire and invited BEA’s shareholders to confront the company if they were unhappy with the result, following Carl Icahn’s similar call.
* Psychological resistance could keep oil prices from vaulting the $100 barrier as traders decide to lock in gains instead.
* As public pensions increasingly venture into more-complex investments such as hedge funds, private equity and infrastructure projects, paychecks at many funds are fattening up.
* Anglo-Swiss mining titan Xstrata Plc XTA.L is offering $2.75 billion for Australian nickel miner Jubilee Mines NL JBM.AX as major miners try to feed global commodities markets.
* Carl Icahn is pushing for Biogen Idec Inc (BIIB.O) to be sold to another drug concern, which could pay a higher price for the biotech firm’s pipeline.
* Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner looked headed for a first-round win for president and declared victory. The vote was marred by delays and ballot shortages at some polls.