January 21, 2009 / 5:12 AM / 10 years ago

PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - Jan 21

Jan 21 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

* The inauguration of the first African-American to lead the U.S. drew over a million people to Washington. Obama called on Americans to return to the values of “hard work and honesty, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity.” He promised “bold and swift” action on the economy and, in a criticism of Bush foreign policy, said, “We reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals.”

* IBM’s (IBM.N) profit rose 12 percent and the technology giant issued an upbeat profit forecast for 2009, bucking the trend.

* State Street Corp (STT.N) shares fell 59 percent after it posted sharply lower earnings and warned that some off-balance-sheet assets could leave the bank at risk of heavy losses in the future.

* Warner Brothers is eliminating roughly 10 percent of its work force across all divisions and all levels, citing the global economic situation.

* Chrysler has found an international partner in Fiat FIA.MI, but the deal is contingent on Chrysler getting $3 billion in additional government loans.

* European Union finance ministers warned that they are running out of room to spend money to boost their economies, as Germany predicted its economy would shrink at least 2 percent this year and Hungary’s currency fell to a record low despite recent efforts to prop it up.

* Canada’s central bank cut its benchmark interest rate to its lowest level on record, and signaled it is prepared to cut the rate again to combat a recession that will cause the economy to contract this year for the first year since 1991.

* As a key lieutenant to money manager Bernard Madoff for more than 30 years, Frank DiPascali Jr. said he headed stock-options trading and was the point man for investment-advisory clients who were told he executed their trades.

* Google Inc (GOOG.O) is canceling a program to sell print advertising for newspapers, saying the effort wasn’t as effective as it had hoped and citing the importance of focusing on more promising products.

* Just a few hours before he officially lost his job, Republican Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin announced an investigation into whether Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) is deliberately degrading its rivals’ Internet phone services, suggested fines of upwards of $500,000 against cable companies in another dispute, and released a flurry of long-delayed reports.

* Heartland Payment Systems Inc HPY.N said cyber criminals compromised its computer network, gaining access to customer information associated with the 100 million card transactions it handles each month.

* Israel’s foreign minister said the state won’t end its blockade of Hamas until there’s progress on talks on the release of a soldier held in Gaza since 2006.

* The Federal Home Loan Banks, which have thrived on obscurity for more than seven decades, are moving uncomfortably into the spotlight as souring mortgage investments threaten to leave some of them below their capital requirements.

* The U.S. has struck deals with Russia and neighboring countries allowing it to transport supplies to American troops in Afghanistan through their territory, the head of U.S. Central Command said.

* Health-care giant Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N) braced investors for its first revenue decline in 76 years in 2009, in a sign of the toll the recession is taking on what is usually one of the most resilient sectors of the economy.

* Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) has sold its stake in Comcast (CMCSA.O), underscoring how the company’s strategic investment in the cable-TV operator has grown less relevant.

* Citigroup Inc (C.N) slashed its common-stock dividend to 1 cent from 16 cents, as required by the federal government’s $20 billion bailout of the embattled bank in November.

* Research In Motion Ltd RIM.TO said it has withdrawn its C$1.50 a share (US$1.18) takeover offer for Certicom Corp (CIC.TO) after an Ontario court effectively halted the hostile bid.

* Shares of big U.S. banks plunged as some investors feared the government would need to nationalize the most deeply wounded institutions, wiping out stockholders.

* Commercial mortgage-backed securities loan delinquencies increased again in December amid defaults on larger loans.

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