PRESS DIGEST- New York Times business news - Jan 29

Wed Jan 29, 2014 12:07am EST

Jan 29 (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.

* After five years of fractious political combat, President Obama declared independence from Congress on Tuesday as he vowed to tackle economic disparity with a series of limited initiatives on jobs, wages and retirement that he will take without legislative approval. ()

* Turkey's central bank aggressively raised rates late Tuesday, in a drastic move aimed at bolstering the currency. But it is unclear whether the move will be enough to satisfy international investors and repair the central bank's reputation. ()

* In the middle of political unrest, Ukraine's opposition appears closer to forcing the rejection of agreements with Russia and turning to the West. ()

* Under the turnaround plan devised by Yahoo's chief executive, Marissa Mayer, the company gained traffic and mobile users in 2013 and introduced a bevy of products, like a slick digital food magazine and a mobile weather app. Yet despite Mayer's labors, Yahoo is still falling further and further behind in the race for Internet advertising. ()

* AT&T finished 2013 strong despite aggressive moves from T-Mobile US, the smaller wireless carrier. AT&T reported on Tuesday a profit of $6.9 billion for the fourth quarter, compared with a loss of $3.9 billion during the period a year earlier, when earnings were hurt by pension costs and Hurricane Sandy. ()

* A hearing on the regulatory future of Bitcoin gave advocates the chance to enumerate what they view as the advantages Bitcoin could provide over current monetary systems.

* Two broadcast television stations in Los Angeles will become the first participants in a pilot test of the government's plans to eventually free up and auction off more airwaves for use in wireless broadband, officials said on Tuesday. ()

* The Royal Bank of Scotland said on Tuesday that it would reduce the range of foreign exchange benchmarks it offers to clients who trade currency markets. ()

* Ford Motor, the nation's No. 2 automaker, said on Tuesday that its fourth-quarter earnings rose 90 percent, to $3 billion, mostly because of favorable tax benefits related to investments in its European operations. ()

* Martin Marietta Materials has agreed to acquire Texas Industries in an all-stock deal worth more than $2 billion, the companies announced on Tuesday morning. ()

* An independent report published on Tuesday accused the BBC of significant management failings in connection with an abandoned 126 million pound ($208.97 million) digital project, saying the broadcaster failed to assess the initiative properly or provide adequate oversight of its progress. ()

* The stock market rose on Tuesday after three days of losses around the world as investors' worries about slowing growth in China and other emerging markets appeared to fade. ()

* As hedge funds sniff for even bigger payouts from banks, one hedge fund, Fir Tree Partners, is even trying to coax other investors out of participating in the $4.5 billion JPMorgan Chase settlement with private investors. ()

* J C Penney altered its poison pill plan on Tuesday as it seeks to defend itself against potential activist investors and preserve a tax benefit. The company lowered the threshold for its poison pill plan to 4.9 percent from 10 percent. It also said it had extended the plan until Jan. 26, 2017. The provisions were originally set to expire this August.

* The Chinese Internet giant Alibaba is looking to join the ranks of Google and Microsoft with an initial public offering that could give it a value of more than $100 billion. But the company's recent acquisition of the Hong Kong-listed company Citic 21CN shows just how much we still don't know about Alibaba and its business. ()

* Comcast Corp, the nation's largest cable provider and the owner of NBCUniversal, on Tuesday reported a sharp increase in profit for the fourth quarter of 2013, helped by an increase in television subscribers after six years of decline. ()

* The long-running boom in emerging markets came to be identified, if not propped up, by wide acceptance of the term BRICs, shorthand for the fast-growing countries Brazil, Russia, India and China. Recent turmoil in these and similar markets has produced a rival expression: the Fragile Five. ()