Jan 3 (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.
* Oil briefly touched $100 a barrel, from just over $10 a barrel a decade ago. The rise is altering the wealth and influence of nations and industries. Oil’s surge adds to the pressure on the U.S. economy.
* Iowa kicks off the presidential nominating contest, offering the first test of whether a populist message can resonate in 2008. This year’s presidential campaign is the most wide-open in eight decades. In Iowa in particular, the races in both parties have been close from the start.
* The Justice Department opened a criminal probe into the destruction of CIA tapes. Attorney General Michael Mukasey appointed an outside prosecutor, John Durham, to conduct the investigation.
* Lockheed Marting Corp (LMT.N) agreed to pay a former African-American employee $2.5 million to settle a bias suit brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
* A measure of U.S. manufacturing activity contracted sharply in December, a sign the economic slowdown is weighing on export-related businesses.
* Some U.S. Federal Reserve members agreed they might need to cut rates again amid pessimism about consumer spending, minutes from last month’s meeting show.
* China’s stock market faces several hurdles, including slowing earnings growth at financial and energy companies.
* General Motors Corp’s (GM.N) sales chief signaled that the company will report a drop in retail vehicle sales for 2007 but struck an upbeat tone for 2008.
* Pakistan announced rescheduled elections for Feb. 18 as President Pervez Musharraf appealed for calm. Scotland Yard was asked to help in the probe into the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.
* China’s Lenovo Group Ltd (0922.HK) is targeting everyday consumers with a new notebook line called IdeaPad, which includes more gaming features.
* Activist investor Nelson Peltz’s Trian Partners LP has taken a small stake in Marsh & McLennan Cos Inc (MMC.N), the giant insurance broker, which late last year announced that it was seeking a new chief executive, according to a person familiar with the matter.
* In the latest push to bring online video to the living room, DVD-rental service Netflix Inc (NFLX.O) and LG Electronics Inc (066570.KS) plan to market an LG-branded device that will allow movies delivered over the Internet by Netflix to be viewed on TV screens.