March 20 (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.
* The gloomy outlook - reflecting credit turmoil, the housing crisis and the softening economy - will probably lead to more production cuts by car companies.
* James Dimon, the chairman and chief executive of JPMorgan Chase & Co (JPM.N), attempted to win over executives at Bear Stearns BSC.N who have vowed to fight his offer.
* With the blessing of the Bush administration, the regulator of Fannie Mae FNM.N and Freddie Mac FRE.N, the nation’s two largest mortgage finance companies, eased a major restriction on the companies in an effort to unfreeze credit markets and stabilize housing prices.
* Starbucks (SBUX.O) announced sweeping changes as it seeks to reconnect with customers who have left for competitors or pared back their coffee budget in hard economic times.
* Catapulted by the biggest IPO in American history, Visa Inc (V.N) shares soared 28 percent in their stock market debut as investors bet an accelerating shift to electronic payments will enrich the company.
* The top post at Japan’s central bank now sits empty after a political standoff in Parliament blocked selection of a successor to the departing governor.
* In an unusual move to calm investors’ nerves, two of Britain’s top financial authorities stepped forward to quash a spate of rumors that had sent some financial stocks in London into a tailspin.
* Morgan Stanley (MS.N) gave Wall Street a shot of confidence, reporting profits that surpassed analysts’ estimates, but the dosage soon wore off.
* Shares of Societe Generale (SOGN.PA), the French bank buffeted by a trading loss of 4.9 billion euros ($7.2 billion), fell 7 percent on Wednesday after a rival bank, BNP Paribas (BNPP.PA), confirmed that it had no plans to try a takeover.
* Opponents of gene-altered crops won a victory in France when the top court upheld, at least for the time being, a ban on a corn variety produced by the American seed company Monsanto (MON.N).
* The compensation committee at Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) has reduced the bonuses of the bank’s top executives, according to a proxy statement filed Wednesday.