January 27, 2009 / 5:42 AM / 10 years ago

PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - Jan 27

Jan 27 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

* Pfizer’s (PFE.N) blockbuster deal to buy Wyeth WYE.N raised hopes about deal financing, but the $22.5 billion loan Pfizer is getting doesn’t mean the spigot is back on.

* Home sales jumped 6.5 percent in December, the biggest monthly increase in nearly seven years, as falling prices drew out buyers.

* John Thain came out swinging against his former boss, Bank of America (BAC.N) Chairman and Chief Executive Kenneth Lewis, saying he was “completely transparent” about big fourth-quarter losses at Merrill Lynch & Co. that cost him his job last week.

* U.S. retail sales are forecast to decline 0.5 percent this year as consumers continue to pull back, according to the National Retail Federation.

* The global economic picture continued to darken Monday as Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N) said it is cutting more jobs, bringing the total to about 20,000 it will have eliminated within a few months.

* The chairman of Banco Santander (SAN.MC) faced down critical shareholders and promised to unveil “magnificent” results next week.

* General Motors Corp (GM.N) will lay off 2,000 more workers this spring and schedule down time at many assembly plants in reaction to declining sales.

* IBM (IBM.N) sent layoff notices to more than 2,800 people in its sales and software groups in the U.S. last week, indicating that domestic job cuts at the technology giant may be more significant than it has signaled.

* Texas Instruments Inc TXN.N said it will cut its work force by 12 percent, or 3,400 employees, as the big chip maker reacts to economic conditions that it says are getting worse.

* Sprint Nextel Corp (S.N) unveiled plans to shed 8,000 jobs, as the wireless carrier battles flagging sales and mounting subscriber losses.

* Home Depot Inc (HD.N) said it is shuttering its 34 Home Expo Design Centers that catered to bigger-ticket remodeling projects, more evidence of how deeply the housing slump and credit crunch are hurting the beleaguered home-improvement industry.

* The Senate confirmed Timothy Geithner as President Barack Obama’s Treasury secretary by a 60-34 vote, paving the way for the new administration to usher in its financial-rescue plan.

* Novartis AG NOVN.VX and a nonprofit partner said they have devised a pill that overcomes a longstanding challenge in developing countries: getting children to take their malaria medicine. The next challenge, however, will be distributing it to those children in the first place.

* With job losses mounting throughout the economy, President Barack Obama said Monday the U.S. can’t afford any delay in passing economic-stimulus legislation.

* A rule change by Medicare, expected to expand patient access to cancer drugs, has sparked questions about rising health-care costs and the influence of drug makers.

* Smurfit-Stone Container Corp SSCC.O, a maker of cardboard boxes, filed for bankruptcy-court protection, about a week after it told lenders that a filing was a possibility.

* Philips Electronics (PHG.AS) halted its share-buyback program and set out more cost-cutting plans, including slashing 6,000 jobs this year, as it swung a quarterly loss.

* French banks Credit Agricole SA (CAGR.PA) and Societe Generale SA (SOGN.PA) unveiled an agreement to combine large parts of their asset-management operations.

* Rohm & Haas Co ROH.N asked a Delaware judge to order Dow Chemical Co DOW.N to complete its $15.3 billion purchase of the specialty-chemicals company, accusing Dow of seeking to stall antitrust approval to delay closing the deal.

* American Express (AXP.N) said its customers reduced spending by 10 percent in the fourth quarter, sending its quarterly net income down 79 percent.

* Netflix Inc’s (NFLX.O) fourth-quarter profit rose 45 percent as the DVD-rental company enjoyed a subscriber boost and spent less on acquiring new customers.

* The U.S. Senate approved a bill that would delay until June the date when television stations must broadcast in an all-digital format.

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