Feb 7 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
* After campaigning for more than a year, spending more than $180 million between them, and facing voters in more than half the states, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are essentially tied in their battle for the Democratic presidential nomination.
* Merger talks between Delta Air Lines (DAL.N) and Northwest Airlines Corp NWA.N picked up steam as the two sides resolved snags over how management of the combined airline would be structured. Preliminary talks between UAL Corp UAUA.O and Continental Airlines Inc (CAL.N) have grown more serious.
* Economists in the latest Wall Street Journal forecasting survey gave Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke the lowest grade of his two-year tenure — 75 out of 100 points — and said it was increasingly likely the U.S. economy will tumble into a recession.
* The UK’s embrace of financial globalization is becoming a liability as the global credit crunch deepens. Bank of England officials face a crucial policy-making meeting Thursday.
* Senate Democrats’ plan to jump-start the economy failed to clear a hurdle, leaving in limbo the effort to provide rebate checks to millions of people and tax breaks to businesses.
* Societe Generale (SOGN.PA) may face a tax hit after it was discovered Jerome Kerviel booked a large gain for the bank.
* Rescue plans are starting to take shape for bond insurers, but they aren’t likely to prevent further ratings downgrades. MBIA (MBI.N) plans to issue $750 million of common stock to raise capital.
* Taking a hard-charging tone in his first address to investors, Time Warner Inc TWX.N Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes laid out his blueprint for shaking up the sleepy company, confirming for the first time his intention to cut costs and explore changes in the company’s ownership of Time Warner Cable Inc TWC.N.
* Cisco Systems Inc (CSCO.O) posted a 7.2 percent increase in net income and a 16.5 percent jump in sales for its fiscal second quarter, but the networking giant acknowledged a pullback in orders and said it expects weak technology spending to continue.
* Chicago Mercantile Exchange parent CME Group Inc CME.N countered against a Justice Department recommendation that futures exchanges not be allowed to own or control lucrative “clearing” businesses that process trades.
* In an admission that its strategy for running a national department-store chain was flawed, Macy’s Inc (M.N) said it will put more emphasis on local markets while consolidating back-office operations and eliminating more than 2,500 jobs.