September 22, 2008 / 6:00 AM / 11 years ago

PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - Sept 22

Sept 22 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in The Wall Street Journal on Monday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

* The U.S. Federal Reserve took the extraordinary step of agreeing to convert the last two major investment banks, Morgan Stanley (MS.N) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc (GS.N), into traditional bank holding companies. With the move, Wall Street as it has long been known will cease to exist.

* Lawmakers are scrambling to put their mark on a $700 billion plan to save financial markets — a fast-moving test of wills that could reshape one of the biggest bailouts in U.S. history.

* Washington Mutual Inc (WM.N) pushed Sunday to decide its fate, continuing talks with potential buyers amid mounting pressure from federal regulators. The Seattle thrift has drawn interest from potential suitors such as Citigroup Inc (C.N), JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), Wells Fargo & Co (WFC.N) and Banco Santander SA (SAN.MC) of Spain.

* Chinese banks may be in better shape than others to weather the current financial storm, with only minor hits from the collapse of major U.S. institutions.

* Lehman Brothers LEHMQ.PK transferred billions of dollars and assets before its bankruptcy filing, raising questions over the propriety of the moves.

* American International Group Inc (AIG.N) shareholders are scrambling to help repay a loan from Washington in time to avoid its taking an 80 percent stake in the U.S. insurance giant.

* The effort to quash short selling gained momentum around the globe Sunday as Australia, Taiwan and the Netherlands announced restrictions to prevent investors from betting that stocks will decline.

* Investors have been pulling money from stock-based mutual funds since mid-June but have been relatively calm in the face of the extreme volatility of recent weeks.

* After a white-knuckle ride that many investors would like to forget, stocks are right back where they were a week ago. But there is reason for investors to feel better about the outlook. The government’s plan to take some of the toxic loans off the books of banks and brokers, for all its uncertainties, removes an albatross around the market’s neck.

* Financial turmoil could undermine a push by Senator John McCain and other conservatives in recent years to inject more market forces into government-run and regulated programs.

* U.K. Treasury chief Alistair Darling plans to call on Monday for a more global approach to regulating financial services to prevent a repeat of the credit crisis.

* General Motors Corp’s (GM.N) move to draw $3.5 billion from an existing credit line could intensify investor concerns about the adequacy of the auto maker’s cash supply, even as it takes some immediate pressure off the company’s plans to tap the volatile credit markets.

* As economists predict the worst holiday sales season since the recession of 1991, retailers are fighting back with an arsenal of new selling strategies, staff cutbacks and more emphasis than ever on low prices.

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