Nov 30 (Reuters) - The New York Times reported the following stories on its business pages on Friday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
* Medicare, the government health care program for older Americans, spends billions of dollars each year on products and services that are available at far lower prices, according to a New York Times analysis of federal data.
* Seeking to stem a multibillion-dollar run on an investment pool for local governments, top Florida officials voted yesterday to suspend withdrawals from the fund, leaving some towns and school districts worrying about how they would pay their bills.
* Facebook is reining in some aspects of a controversial new advertising program. Within the last 10 days, more than 50,000 Facebook members have signed a petition objecting to the new program, which sends messages to users’ friends about what they are buying on Web sites like Travelocity.com, TheKnot.com and Fandango.
* Striking screenwriters dismissed a new set of proposals from producers as “a massive rollback,” and called on their members to continue their walkout with fresh resolve despite a plan to continue talks on Tuesday.
* Western officials are concerned that Venezuela, under the leadership of President Hugo Chavez, is becoming increasingly opaque in its finances.
* Morgan Stanley (MS.N) said Zoe Cruz, a co-president who oversaw all the firm’s trading and risk operations, would retire, effective immediately.
* Sears Holdings Corp (SHLD.O), the owner of the Sears and Kmart chains, said profit for the third quarter plunged a startling 99 percent, from $196 million last year to just $2 million.
* The economy’s performance was the strongest in four years, but is not expected to last through the current quarter amid the housing slump and credit squeeze.
* China agreed to terminate a dozen different subsidies and tax rebates that promote its own exports and discourage imports of steel, wood products, information technology and other goods.
* Ben Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, acknowledged that a “fresh wave of investor concern” had led to tougher credit conditions that posed new risks to the economy, reinforcing the view that the Fed is likely to cut interest rates again, when it meets on Dec 11.
* The chairman of the Hong Kong company, JSSY Ltd Co, that manufactured millions of the toy beads said the firm had not considered the possibility that the chemicals in the beads might be poisonous.