May 30, 2008 / 6:57 AM / 11 years ago

PRESS DIGEST - New York Times business news - May 30

May 30 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in The New York Times business pages on Friday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

* Some of the biggest losers in the real estate slump are buyers of second homes who are sitting on a tax time bomb. While Congress has granted some tax relief to people who lose their primary homes, there is no such aid for those who fall behind on payments on a getaway condo in Las Vegas, a retirement home on the Florida coast or an old house that they are renting out for income.

* UAL Corp’s UAUA.O United Airlines Inc told US Airways Group Inc LCC.N that it had decided not to continue talks on a possible merger, people with direct knowledge of the situation said.

* General Motors Corp (GM.N) said that 19,000 hourly workers — a quarter of a unionized work force that already has been drastically pared down — have accepted buyouts. Most of the workers will depart within the next month, as GM formulates a plan to deal with plummeting demand for sport utility vehicles and pickup trucks while gasoline prices climb above $4 a gallon.

* Two major court victories for Merck & Co (MRK.N) pushed the litigation over the painkiller Vioxx closer to conclusion and highlighted the difficulty that plaintiffs’ lawyers are having in winning lawsuits against big drug companies.

* A retired professor at St. John’s University was accused by the Securities and Exchange Commission of passing inside information about a multibillion-dollar corporate takeover to a professor at Pace University. The Pace professor made more than $1 million trading on the tips in 2007, according to the S.E.C. The Justice Department has filed criminal charges.

* A banker indicted in a tax inquiry of the Swiss giant UBS AG UBSN.VX is expected to enter a guilty plea next month and cooperate with investigators.

* Dropping the curtain on 85 years of Wall Street history, shareholders of Bear Stearns Cos Inc BSC.N voted Thursday to support the troubled investment bank’s controversial, government-backed merger with JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N).

* Despite support, plans to take the carbon dioxide that spews from coal-burning power plants and pump it back into the ground have hit roadblocks.

* Agriculture Secretary Edward Schafer is preparing for criticism over American biofuels policy when he meets with world leaders to discuss the global food crisis next week.

* A bill to regulate tobacco products has lost the support of a black antismoking group, which said that the legislation failed to adequately protect the health of African-Americans because it would not ban menthol flavorings from cigarettes.

* Federal regulators said that they have been investigating oil and derivative markets for six months to look into potential price manipulation.

* European governments, already under pressure from slowing economic growth and falling tax revenue, are concerned that anger over higher gas prices could grow.

* The final Harry Potter installment gave a much-needed jolt to the publishing industry last July, but publishers still struggled to sell more books overall than they did in 2006.

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