PRESS DIGEST- New York Times business news - Dec 13

Fri Dec 13, 2013 1:07am EST

Dec 13 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories on the New York Times business pages. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

* The United States Treasury called on Thursday for a greater federal role in the regulation of insurance, particularly in areas like mortgage insurance, the collection and use of personal data to set prices, and the use of secretive entities known as captives to keep risks off the books of insurers. ()

* The fallout from the bursting of the housing bubble continues to plague Wall Street. Bank of America agreed on Thursday to pay the Securities and Exchange Commission a $131.8 million penalty to settle an investigation linked to the structuring and sale of two complex mortgage securities that its Merrill Lynch division sold to investors. ()

* Wall Street financiers have occasionally been referred to as sharks or snakes. But on Thursday, one prominent firm was associated with entirely different kinds of cute and lovable critters. About a dozen kindergartners, and a few high-powered financiers, gathered at the Blackstone Group's Midtown Manhattan headquarters to get up close with eight animal ambassadors from Sea World, the theme park operator that the firm took public this year. ()

* The Energy Department will give a small company in Corvallis, Ore., up to $226 million to advance the design of tiny nuclear reactors that would be installed under water, making meltdown far less likely and opening the door to markets around the world where the reactors now on the market are too big for local power grids. ()

* Graduate teaching and research assistants at New York University have voted overwhelmingly to unionize, the American Arbitration Association announced this week after conducting the vote. ()

* In what could be the biggest economic change in two decades, President Enrique Pena Nieto is on the verge of rewriting the Constitution to open Mexico's oil, gas and electricity industry to private investment - a provocative move expected to lure international oil companies and expand North America's energy supply while testing the grip oil has on Mexico's soul. ()

* When Spotify, the digital music company of the moment, announced an exclusive deal with Led Zeppelin and free access on mobile devices, it also reported impressive numbers. Its listeners have streamed 4.5 billion hours of music this year, and it has paid more than $1 billion in music royalties since its founding. But Spotify, a private company, did not disclose how many people use the service and how many pay for it. ()

* Verizon Communications has taken an aggressive stance against a proposed shareholder resolution that would require it to be more forthcoming about the customer information it shares with the government. ()

A couple walks along the rough surf during sunset at Oahu's North Shore, December 26, 2013. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

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