January 4, 2008 / 6:55 AM / 11 years ago

PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - Jan 4

Jan 4 (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.

* Republican candidate Mike Huckabee and Democratic newcomer Barack Obama won the Iowa presidential caucuses in a dramatic evidence of voters’ hunger for change. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney was placed second among Republicans, while New York Senator Hillary Clinton and John Edwards were in a tight race for Democratic runner-up.

* The U.S. Federal Reserve may not have the freedom to ease monetary policy as much as it did during the 2001 slump. The Fed’s view that inflation is a bigger risk now could mean either fewer rate cuts than anticipated or a quicker reversal of the cuts.

* The auto industry’s troubles are spreading to other manufacturers amid a slump in U.S. vehicle sales that is likely to turn 2008 into the weakest year in at least a decade. General Motors Corp’s (GM.N) vehicle sales fell 4.4 percent in December. Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) had a 1.7 percent drop, but it overtook Ford Motor Co (F.N) for the year.

* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is expected to declare that milk and meat from cloned animals and their offspring are safe to eat. But consumer wariness toward cloned food may lead to a backlash among U.S. lawmakers and overseas.

* The U.S. Treasury Department plans to unveil a prepaid debit card for Social Security recipients, aiming for safer and cheaper benefits payments.

* Intel Corp (INTC.O) resigned from the board of the nonprofit One Laptop Per Child, citing differences over the chip maker’s plans to sell its own low-cost laptops in the developing world.

* Regulators have broadened their review of Wall Street’s role in the mortgage industry, asking several firms for data on products sold to individual investors.

* Meraki Inc plans to offer free high-speed wireless Internet access throughout San Francisco this year, betting that low-cost technology and help from users will bring success where other municipal Wi-Fi projects have failed.

* State Street Corp (STT.N) will set aside $618 million to cover legal costs, resulting in a $279 million hit to earnings.

* Landmark Communications Inc said it is exploring the possible sale of its businesses, which include the Weather Channel and nine daily newspapers.

* In the latest chapter of a long-running environmental dispute, more than 90 plaintiffs sued International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N), alleging it discharged toxic chemicals and caused birth defects and other health problems for residents in and around Endicott, New York, where the company was founded.

* Venture-capital firm Sevin Rosen Funds, which backed Compaq Computer Corp and Lotus Development Corp in the early 1980s but has struggled to earn profits recently, is splitting up.

* Addex Pharmaceuticals SA (ADXN.S) and Merck & Co Inc (MRK.N) reached a deal to develop a drug candidate for schizophrenia, under which the blue-chip drug giant will pay the Swiss firm up to $702 million in cash plus royalties.

* Embattled Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf rejected political opponents’ allegations that his government’s military or intelligence agencies were involved in the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto.

* Diplomatic efforts to broker a compromise between Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki and his main challenger, Raila Odinga, faltered, setting the stage for a drawn-out political stalemate and making more remote the prospects for a quick resolution to a week of election-related violence.

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