December 20, 2007 / 6:48 AM / 11 years ago

PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - Dec 20

Dec 20 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

* Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani has lost his national lead in the U.S. Republican race, according to a new WSJ/NBC News poll. Giuliani and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney are tied at 20 percent, with former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee at 17 percent and Arizona Senator John McCain at 14 percent.

The Democratic race has remained a more stable contest among the top contenders in the national rankings, with former first lady Senator Hillary Clinton of New York maintaining a 22-percentage-point national lead over Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.

* Morgan Stanley (MS.N) Chief Executive John Mack, who set out to restore the firm’s “swagger,” was left shaken after the company said it would write down $9.4 billion in mortgage assets, post a quarterly loss and take a $5 billion investment from China.

* New guidelines being proposed for sovereign-wealth funds may not assuage fears of investments being used for political ends.

* The United States Congress put a one-year freeze on growth of the AMT, but the measure is a setback for House Democrats who wanted the lost revenue offset by a tax increase as part of pay-go rules.

* Standard & Poor’s downgraded ACA Financial Guaranty Corp’s (ACA.N) credit rating to junk status, rendering billions in guarantees effectively worthless.

* Some experts are calling for the federal government to use spending increases or tax cuts to help the U.S. Federal Reserve ward off a recession.

* The Environmental Protection Agency blocked California from putting limits on vehicle emissions to curb greenhouse gases, a victory for the auto industry.

* The CIA will begin handing over documents about the destruction of videos showing the interrogation of terror suspects after a House committee threatened to subpoena two agency officials.

* U.S. Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff is finalizing a charter for a domestic satellite-surveillance program and will soon unveil a cyber-security strategy.

* General Motors Corp (GM.N) is set to announce the sale of its profitable medium-duty truck business to Navistar International Corp NAVZ.PK.

* In a deal highlighting the allure of the Japanese real-estate market, a group of private-equity funds have begun bidding for a stake in major property developer Daito Construction Trust Co (1878.T), according to people familiar with the situation.

* Oracle Corp ORCL.O reported a 35 percent jump in second-quarter profit, an indication that the software maker’s aggressive acquisition strategy could help insulate it from any broad economic slowdown.

* Barclays Plc (BARC.L), stung this summer when two big hedge funds run by Bear Stearns Cos Inc BSC.N collapsed, is suing the Wall Street firm and two of its fund managers, claiming among other things that Bear misled it about the performance of the highly leveraged funds.

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