Jan 7 (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.
* President-elect Barack Obama plans to offer states $7 billion as incentive to permanently change their unemployment-insurance laws to cover part-time workers and prevent other laid-off workers from falling through cracks in the coverage.
* Alcoa Inc (AA.N) set asset sales, a 15 percent work-force reduction, more plant closures and a 50 percent cut in capital spending.
* The Federal Reserve signaled that the recession could be longer and deeper than officials previously thought, with unemployment rising into next year and inflation slowing substantially.
* The financial company tied to Governor Richardson has a history of making campaign contributions in the states where it does business.
* Dow Chemical’s DOW.N chief pledged to pursue legal and other avenues to remake itself after a failed plastics venture.
* Retailers, having just struggled through one of the worst holiday shopping seasons in recent memory, are now trying to share the pain with their landlords. Many stores are pushing to negotiate lower rents, warning that they mightn’t be able to make it unless their costs are cut.
* Apple Inc (AAPL.O) unveiled significant pricing and copyright changes to its iTunes Store, moves by the dominant online music seller that could spur similar action across the industry.
* Goody’s Family Clothing Inc is liquidating operations, becoming the first high-profile retailer in the U.S. to go under in a new year that is expected to see more going-out-of-business announcements.
* General Electric Capital Corp opted to forgo government guarantees when it sold $4 billion of 30-year bonds in a sign that the binds around credit markets are loosening.
* The Houston oil trader at Vitol Group whose recent market moves came under review by regulators is leaving the firm.
* Kenneth Lewis, chairman and chief executive of Bank of America Corp (BAC.N), recommended that he and top lieutenants get no bonuses for 2008, according to an internal memo issued.
* After nine sudden engine-stalls on Airbus aircraft since last April, U.S. and European aviation regulators are working with engine-maker CFM International SA to develop new safety measures for approximately 1,500 workhorse Airbus jetliners used around the world.
* Lyondell Chemical, the U.S. arm of chemical giant LyondellBasell Industries, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
* A federal appeals court in New Orleans upheld the convictions of former Enron Corp Chief Executive Jeffrey Skilling but ordered Skilling to be given a new prison sentence after finding fault with a portion of the trial judge’s sentencing calculation.
* Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, the former chief executive of American International Group Inc (AIG.N), said he might have considered bidding for the firm’s HSB Group Inc unit if he had known it would be sold for $742 million.
* Bankruptcy reorganization can rehabilitate companies with good operations and bad balance sheets, according to a soon-to-be released study.
* The cost to operate the Treasury Department’s $700 billion financial rescue plan is expected to rise sharply before the end of the month because of the increased costs of hiring outside firms to run portions of the program.
* A dispute between Russia and Ukraine over natural gas turned nasty, as gas deliveries to a swath of European countries were cut off entirely amid freezing winter temperatures.