PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - Dec 31

Fri Dec 31, 2010 2:53am EST

Dec 31 (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.

* Amid stumbles and scares, U.S. stocks clambered to a second straight year of gains, in which the Dow reached levels not seen since the fall of Lehman Brothers in September 2008.

* Martha Kunkle died in 1995. But that didn't stop her signature from appearing on thousands of affidavits submitted by one of the nation's largest debt collectors, Portfolio Recovery Associates Inc (PRAA.O).

* Nintendo 7974.OS warned that young children shouldn't play 3-D games on a hotly anticipated new game device, citing possible health risks.

* The companies are urging the U.S. Federal Reserve to drop a proposal that would require credit-card issuers to consider only a borrower's "independent" income rather than household income.

* A mutual-fund company from Toronto that started offering funds to U.S. investors last year has promptly won the crown for having the best-performing stock fund and best fund of any kind for 2010.

* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved about 21 drugs in 2010, a relatively modest figure that shows the pharmaceutical industry hasn't yet escaped its drought in recent years.

* Chartis Inc, the property-and-casualty insurance unit of American International Group Inc (AIG.N), said it has taken steps to improve disclosures about guarantees its subsidiaries provided to other AIG units, after a state regulator found "deficiencies" in its reporting.

* Groupon Inc, the daily online coupon service that recently spurned a takeover offer from Google Inc (GOOG.O), has raised $500 million of a nearly $1 billion round of new funding, according to a regulatory filing.

* A California woman, accused of providing inside information on publicly traded companies to hedge funds, was ordered jailed until Monday after failing to meeting conditions for bail.

* When Fiat SpA (FIA.MI) spins off its truck and tractor divisions into a separate company on Saturday, the remaining company with its cars and vans will be the riskier bet for investors but could offer greater potential to grow in value, analysts say.

* The U.S. Treasury Department is converting $5.5 billion of its preferred stock in auto-finance company Ally Financial Inc into common stock so that the federal government is in a better position to exit the investment.

* Initial claims for unemployment benefits fell last week to the lowest level in more than two years, offering another hopeful sign that the job market is improving as the economy regains some momentum.

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