February 27, 2009 / 5:15 AM / 10 years ago

PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - Feb 27

Feb 27 (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.

* President Barack Obama delivered a $3.6 trillion budget blueprint to Congress that aims to “break from a troubled past,” with expanded government activism, tax increases and spending cuts targeted at those he says profited from “an era of profound irresponsibility.”

* Citigroup Inc (C.N) and the U.S. have reached an agreement in which the government will increase its stake in the bank and in return will demand a boardroom shakeup.

* AstraZeneca Plc (AZN.L) instructed sales representatives to tell doctors that a psychiatric drug didn’t cause diabetes even though a physician said such a link was probable in some individuals, documents show.

* Federal prosecutors filed obstruction charges against a top Stanford Financial official, the first criminal charges to emerge in the investigation of Texas businessman Allen Stanford’s offshore financial empire.

* Federal regulators are expected to raise the fees that they charge banks by more than double in an effort to replenish the government’s deposit-insurance fund, said people familiar with the matter.

* Fannie Mae FNM.P posted a $25.2 billion loss for the fourth quarter, and similar expectations for Freddie Mac FRE.P paint a worsening outlook.

* The UK government took banking giant Royal Bank of Scotland Group (RBS.L) to the brink of nationalization, in the latest gamble by a major nation to shore up confidence in the international financial system.

* Dell Inc’s DELL.O quarterly profit fell by nearly half and the computer maker said it expects demand for equipment to remain weak in coming months, underlining how deeply the recession is now gnawing at technology companies.

* Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis testified in a meeting with New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo’s office for four hours about $3.6 billion in bonuses handed out to Merrill Lynch & Co employees on the eve of its merger with the bank last year.

* Yahoo Inc YHOO.O Chief Executive Carol Bartz overhauled the company’s top executive ranks, consolidating several positions and creating others in an attempt to make the Web company more efficient.

* General Motors Corp (GM.N) capped a gloomy 2008 with a $9.6 billion loss in the fourth quarter, bringing its loss for the year to $30.9 billion. The results reflect a stunning downturn throughout the company’s global operations and raise new concern about its viability.

* This weekend, Eddie Bauer Holdings Inc EBHI.O plans to introduce its first line of high-performance mountaineering wear and gear in more than a decade. Called First Ascent, the line will go on sale online in April and will be available in 180 new Eddie Bauer “stores within stores” later this year.

* Three big development banks said they will offer 24.5 billion euros ($31 billion) in financing for struggling banks in Eastern Europe and some of their customers, trying to free up lending and pressure wealthier Western Europe to pitch in.

* Iceland’s parliament moved to oust central-bank chief David Oddsson, who had for weeks resisted appeals by the prime minister and public to resign.

* Iraq’s Ministry of Oil and the British-based Mesopotamia Petroleum Co signed a joint venture to drill for oil in Iraq, marking the first partnership between a state-owned Iraqi oil company and a foreign firm.

* Latvia’s prime minister designate, Valdis Dombrovskis, said in his first day on the job that the Baltic state could fall short of money by the summer.

* Talks intensified in Germany over the need for potential state aid for General Motors Corp (GM.N) unit Opel, the U.S. car maker’s largest European division, as thousands of Opel workers took to the streets to keep up political pressure for a bailout.

* U.S. House Democrats have pushed back until next week a vote on legislation to allow bankruptcy judges to reduce the principal balance of mortgage loans, after some in their party raised concerns about the measure.

* The Federal Home Loan Banks of Pittsburgh, Boston and Chicago reported heavy losses caused by write downs in the value of mortgage securities.

* Facebook detailed plans to allow users to play a role in formulating its rules and regulations, a week after triggering an uproar about its terms of service.

* Gap Inc’s (GPS.N) fiscal fourth-quarter net income fell 8.3 percent as the weak holiday season cut into sales and margins.

* The Rocky Mountain News became the largest-circulation daily to close its doors in the newspaper-industry crisis, after publisher EW Scripps Co SSP.N failed to find a buyer for the 150-year-old Denver paper.

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