March 19, 2008 / 5:53 AM / 11 years ago

PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - March 19

March 19 (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.

* Bear Stearns Cos Inc’s BSC.N shares soared 23 percent on Tuesday on bets that JP Morgan Chase & Co (JPM.N) will have to pay more for the firm, setting up a high-stakes game of brinksmanship between investors, the Fed and JP Morgan.

* Wall Street firms have been reluctant to borrow from the program established by the U.S. Federal Reserve last weekend. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc LEH.N has borrowed a small amount and Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N) is likely to do the same.

* The Fed continued its two-front attack on the credit crunch by cutting rates three-quarters of a percentage point to 2.25 percent, and central bankers hinted of more cuts to come.

* Senator Barrack Obama addressed the volatile issue of race amid controversy over remarks by his former pastor. He strongly disagreed with Rev. Jeremiah Wright on some occasions, but said the nation must address resentments of both blacks and whites and end its “racial stalemate.”

* Fannie Mae FNM.N and Freddie Mac’s FRE.N regulator is set to unveil a plan to ease the companies’ capital requirements.

* U.S. President George W. Bush and congressional Democrats are in talks on a plan designed to stave off hundreds of thousands of home foreclosures.

* GMAC LLC named Alvaro de Molina to succeed Eric Feldstein as chief executive officer of the loan provider, which has had its share of subprime problems. De Molina, a former Bank of America executive, joined Cerberus Capital Management LP [CBS.UL]-controlled GMAC last summer.

* The U.S. government’s airwaves auction for new broadband wireless networks raised almost $20 billion. While Federal Communications Commission officials said they were pleased, the auction didn’t attract new competition the agency desired.

* Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N) said it will offer voluntary buyouts to roughly 30,000 employees, cut domestic flights and boost its international capacity as part of a business overhaul to deal with soaring fuel prices.

* Michigan legislators were unable to agree on a bill authorizing a state-run Democratic primary, making prospects for a revote unlikely. Senator Hillary Clinton aides said the campaign would continue to press for a revote.

* A British judge handed Venezuela a legal victory in its quarrel with Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N), lifting an order freezing $12 billion in assets and ordering the Texas oil giant to pay legal fees. The ruling is a setback in Exxon’s efforts to fight back against Venezuela’s nationalization of oil fields.

* Jarrett Lilien, passed over last month for chief executive officer at E*Trade Financial Corp (ETFC.O), plans to resign. The move marks the end of an era at the brokerage, which has been weighed down by its exposure to the mortgage market.

* Former KPMG LLP [KPMG.UL] tax partner Robert Pfaff has been charged in a new two-count criminal indictment over alleged fraudulent tax-shelter transactions in the United States and the Northern Mariana Islands, according to court papers.

* China’s security forces sent reinforcements into large swathes of western China in an effort to contain spreading protests by Tibetans. Meanwhile, Chinese state media reported that 105 people surrendered to police for taking part in protests in Tibet’s capital.

* Japan’s last-minute attempt to name a new central-bank governor before incumbent Toshihiko Fukui retired was derailed when the government’s second nominee for the post was rejected by Japan’s upper house of parliament. The move heightened chances that Japan, the world’s second-largest economy, would have no central-bank chief, even if only temporarily.

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