Dec 26 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in The Wall Street Journal on Friday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
* Price-slashing failed to rescue a bleak holiday season for beleaguered retailers, as sales plunged across most categories, according to new data.
* The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is casting a wide net as it continues to investigate whether Madoff's family was tied to the alleged fraud.
* Natural-gas prices remain in a slump amid weak demand from manufacturers, which have cut operations to cope with the recession.
* Bankers are complaining about mixed signals from U.S. regulators, who want them to lend more but build up capital to protect against losses. FDIC's Sheila Bair says examiners are "trying to strike a balance."
* Japan's industrial output posted its biggest drop on record in November while consumption and employment worsened.
* Canadian National Railway (CNR.TO) won federal approval for its controversial plan to buy a suburban Chicago rail line, a purchase that would enable the company's trains to bypass a city notorious for its rail bottlenecks.
* India's Reliance Industries Ltd (RELI.BO) started operations at its new 580,000-barrels-per-day refinery in western India, likely raising the pressure on refining margins globally.
* Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) won $33.2 million in a "cybersquatting" case against a firm that registered Internet domain names similar to the company's trademarks.
* Fortis FOR.BR incurred a loss of 295 million euros ($411 million), as the company sold dollars and pounds it had bought to prepare for BNP Paribas' (BNPP.PA) now-stalled acquisition of certain Fortis assets.
* GOME Electrical Appliances (0493.HK) said it suspended the executive duties of its chairman, Huang Guangyu, amid an investigation by Chinese police for alleged financial impropriety.
* Detroit's car show is being scaled back as Nissan pulls out and General Motors (GM.N) cancels its fashion show, dealing another economic blow to the depressed city.