PRESS DIGEST- New York Times business news - Feb 5

Wed Feb 5, 2014 12:35am EST

Feb 5 (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.

* Bill Gates, who co-founded Microsoft but has spent his time on other pursuits, will return part-time to the company after the new Chief Executive, Satya Nadella, asked him to be his adviser. ()

* Insurer WellPoint Inc has captured a large portion of the government money being spent on Medicaid, the federal-state health care program for the poor, and can gamble on the new insurance marketplace because of protections offered by the federal government in the early days of the law's introduction.

* JPMorgan Chase & Co can write off $1.5 billion in debt relief, but it will be treated as taxable income for homeowners, resulting in burdensome costs for many families. ()

* Morgan Stanley has agreed to pay $1.25 billion to the Federal Housing Finance Agency to resolve claims that it sold shoddy mortgage securities to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

* Texting has become such a fundamental way to communicate that crisis groups have begun to adopt it as an alternative way of providing emergency services and counseling. ()

* A Congressional Budget Office analysis released Tuesday predicted that the Affordable Care Act would shrink the work force by the equivalent of more than two million full-time positions and recharged the political debate over the health care law, providing Republican opponents fresh lines of attack and putting Democrats on the defensive. ()

* Standard & Poor's downgraded the debt of Puerto Rico to junk status on Tuesday, intensifying a cash squeeze for the commonwealth, whose financial condition is of outsize importance to the rest of the United States because its debt is widely held by individual investors through mutual funds. ()

* A top executive of Target told a Senate committee on Tuesday that the company was accelerating plans to adopt a technology widely used in Europe but rare in the United States that reduces potential for credit card fraud, and lawmakers from both parties called on other businesses to do the same. ()

* After enduring huge recalls, a tsunami in Japan and a steep drop in sales because of slowing demand, Toyota Motor Corp on Tuesday hit a milestone in its comeback, saying it was on pace to earn its biggest-ever annual profit in its fiscal year that ends in March. ()

* The first quarterly increase in two years for comparable-store sales at J.C. Penney was not enough to win over Wall Street. The company's stock plunged more than 10 percent on Tuesday. ()

* Without clear information on Herbalife's business model, the speculation in its stock creates extreme volatility as investors trade on rumor. ()

* A strong earnings report by Michael Kors Holdings Ltd not only drove up the stock on Tuesday, but also increased Kors's net worth by about $34 million. ()

* Sachem Head Capital Management, a $1 billion activist hedge fund led by a protege of William Ackman, sent a public letter to Helen of Troy Ltd board on Tuesday, demanding that the consumer company explore strategic alternatives including a sale of some of its assets. ()

* Stephen Hester, who took the top job at Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc after a government bailout in 2008, replaces Stephen Lee, who resigned as chief of the RSA Group after a profit warning and a 200 million pound shortfall in the reserves related to its Irish business. ()

* More than a year ago, UBS AG pledged to overhaul its investment bank after a prominent trading loss and a rate-rigging scandal. Those efforts appeared to be bearing fruit, based on the bank's latest earnings report released Tuesday. ()

* After taking off for the Chinese New Year holiday, shareholders in Lenovo Group Ltd appear to be having some cold feet about the computer maker's recent deal spree. Shares in the company tumbled more than 16 percent in trading on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange on Tuesday. ()

* James Bardrick, a veteran banker in London, has been named head of Citigroup's business in Britain. ()

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