PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - May 1

Tue May 1, 2012 3:29am EDT

May 1 (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.

* Spain has joined seven other euro-zone economies in recession, providing further evidence that austerity policies are failing to regenerate confidence in the region's economies.

* Consumers found it easier to get credit cards and auto loans in the first quarter of 2012, but standards for home and business loans remained tight.

* After a series of meetings early this week, Treasury officials will decide whether to start issuing floating-rate debt for the first time ever.

* Australia's central bank Tuesday slashed interest rates by 0.5 percentage point, reacting to mounting evidence the economy has slowed to a crawl in 2012 due in part to a soaring Australian dollar.

* Microsoft is investing at least $605 million in Barnes & Noble's Nook digital-book business, as the software giant pushes deeper into the e-books business and props up a rival to the iPad and Amazon's Kindle.

* Japan's domestic sales of new cars, trucks and buses surged 92 percent from a year earlier in April, rising for the eighth straight month as government incentives sparked demand

* Tumblr Inc's president John Maloney resigned over the weekend, just as the fast-growing but profitless blogging platform prepares to sell ads for the first time and tries to justify its sky-high valuation.

* Concerns are growing about departures at mortgage-finance giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, a situation that some executives argue is making it difficult to manage the companies and their $5 trillion mortgage business.

* The homeownership rate fell in the first quarter to the lowest level in 15 years as more Americans lost homes to foreclosure and shifted to renting amid the weak economic recovery.

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