Sept 11 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in The New York Times business pages on Thursday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
* Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc’s LEH.N fortunes dwindled further on Wednesday as the Wall Street investment bank, staggered by the biggest loss in its 158-year history, fought to regain confidence among investors.
* As Wall Street scoured the financial industry for the next weakest link after Lehman Brothers, it set its sights on a familiar target: Washington Mutual Inc (WM.N), the nation’s largest savings and loan. Shares of the troubled lender plunged 30 percent, falling below $3 for the first time since 1991.
* The Interior Department agency that collects oil and gas royalties has been caught up in a broad ethics scandal — including allegations of financial self-dealing, accepting gifts from energy companies, cocaine use and sexual misconduct.
* Saudi Arabian officials assured world markets that they would continue to pump as much oil as needed.
* Three members of Congress, armed with a new report, are renewing their efforts to exclude many institutional investors from the nation’s commodity markets.
* The plan to award six no-bid contracts to Western oil companies had come under sharp criticism from several U.S. senators over the summer.
* A Senate report says that investment banks are marketing complex schemes meant to allow foreign investors to avoid paying billions of dollars in dividend taxes illegally.
* A proposed $25 billion federal loan program to help retool the auto industry would speed the development of alternative-fuel vehicles, a Chrysler executive said.
* Saying that the competition had become too “highly charged,” the Defense Department announced it was postponing a decision on a $35 billion contract to replace the Air Force’s aging tanker fleet until the next administration.
* Letting airlines escape punishment for safety violations if they voluntarily confess their errors to the government is essential for safety, an independent panel told the Federal Aviation Administration in a report.
* China has joined the United States, Britain, Spain and others on the list of nations suffering a real estate decline. Real estate brokers say prices in China are down from peaks reached earlier this year, while the number of transactions has plunged.
* ImClone Systems Inc IMCL.O threw a wrench into a $4.5 billion takeover effort by Bristol-Myers Squibb Co (BMY.N) by saying it was entertaining a higher offer from a new suitor.
* Raffaello Follieri, an Italian businessman, pleaded guilty to 14 counts of wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy in Federal District Court.
* Mexican telecommunications billionaire Carlos Slim and his family have acquired a 6.4 percent stake in The New York Times Co (NYT.N), he revealed in a regulatory filing.