January 26, 2009 / 5:18 AM / 10 years ago

PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - Jan 26

Jan 26 (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.

* Lending fell 1.4 percent in the fourth quarter at 10 of the 13 biggest beneficiaries of the Treasury’s TARP. Banks argue prudent lending takes time and demand is ebbing.

* Pfizer (PFE.N) is expected to pay $68 billion to acquire rival Wyeth WYE.N in what would be the largest pharmaceutical deal in nearly a decade.

* Some of the nation’s largest auto-parts makers are planning for potential bankruptcy filings, or are scrambling to avoid them, amid uncertainty about Washington’s willingness to increase its $17.4 billion bailout plan for Detroit’s Big Three auto makers.

* Hotel occupancies are projected to hit a 20-year low, putting many properties in danger of missing payments to lenders.

* To strengthen its finance unit, General Electric Co (GE.N) has cut its short-term borrowing, tapped government guarantees to refinance some of its debt at lower interest rates and bolstered deposits. But investors and analysts question whether those steps will be enough to preserve the conglomerate’s endangered Triple-A credit rating.

* Bank of America Corp’s (BAC.N) handling of its acquisition of troubled Merrill Lynch & Co has put Chairman and Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis on the hot seat with irate shareholders. Among those disappointed in the steep decline in the bank’s stock are two veterans who helped Mr. Lewis rise to the top.

* Barclays Plc (BARC.L) may report its 2008 results earlier than planned, a person familiar with the matter said, as the bank seeks to quell investor concerns that further losses will force it to turn to the U.K. government for help.

* UBS AG UBSN.VX is under legal pressure as U.S. prosecutors expand their investigation into whether the Swiss bank helped tens of thousands of Americans avoid paying taxes, said several people involved in the case.

* French banks Credit Agricole SA (CAGR.PA) and Societe Generale SA plan to announce an agreement to combine large parts of their asset-management operations, people familiar with the matter said.

* Business groups are ramping up lobbying efforts to expand tax credits and incentives in President Barack Obama’s $825 billion economic-stimulus bill slated for key Senate action this week.

* A top official in China’s central bank, alluding to comments by Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner, said the charge that Beijing manipulates its currency was inaccurate and implied there were bigger issues to address in the global financial crisis.

* Chrysler LLC is asking dealers to accept cost cuts and not slash orders for new vehicles as the company races to meet a March 31 deadline to prove to the federal government that it can become viable.

* Indian police arrested two partners of an Indian arm of accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers on charges of criminal conspiracy and cheating in connection with the fraud investigation at Satyam Computer Services Ltd SATY.BO, according to senior police official A. Siva Narayana.

* Prosecutors in Dubai have increased the bail for a developer accused of defrauding investors of more than $100 million, as more investors lodged complaints in what is the biggest case to grow out of Dubai’s efforts to regulate a weakening property market.

* After just two weeks on the job, Yahoo Inc’s YHOO.O new chief executive, Carol Bartz, will be in the hot seat Tuesday as she presents fourth-quarter results to shareholders on pins and needles to hear her turnaround plan.

* Just how much consumers have tightened their belts will become a good deal clearer this week, when a slew of consumer-staples makers report their earnings, including industry titan Procter & Gamble Co (PG.N).

* Russia and Georgia violated international laws of war during their conflict in August and should investigate and prosecute those responsible, a leading human-rights group said.

* The nation’s aging roads and bridges plus President Obama’s economic-stimulus plan should equal more spending on capital improvements, and there are industries, from engineering to construction, that are poised to benefit, say market observers.

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