Jan 7 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in the New York Times business pages on Wednesday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
* Apple Inc (AAPL.O) said it would begin selling song downloads without anticopying measures and change its pricing structure.
* Environmental groups in the U.S. and Canada are pushing for a slowdown to oil sands development.
* Policy makers at the Federal Reserve appeared almost stunned by an economy that was sinking faster than they had expected on almost every front in December, so much so that they even toyed with the idea of not announcing an official target for overnight interest rates, according to minutes of the meeting released on Tuesday.
* President-elect Barack Obama braced Americans for the unparalleled prospect of "trillion-dollar deficits for years to come," a stark assessment of the budgetary outlook that he said would force his administration to impose tighter fiscal discipline on the government.
* The most recent report about retail sales showed double-digit declines in some closely watched categories, but also indicated the numbers were stabilizing.
* Alcoa Inc (AA.N), one of the world's largest aluminum makers, described plans to close plants and slash its work force in an effort to contend with the continued economic downturn.
* Russia's gas price dispute with Ukraine escalated, disrupting deliveries to the European Union in the midst of a bitter cold spell.