PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - May 2

Fri May 2, 2014 12:57am EDT

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May 2 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories in the Wall Street Journal. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

* German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be carrying a clear message from Germany's business lobby when she meets President Barack Obama at the White House to discuss the Ukraine crisis: No more sanctions on Russia. (r.reuters.com/qaj98v)

* Pfizer Inc and AstraZeneca have resumed talks about a trans-Atlantic merger of the two drug giants, after Pfizer sweetened the terms of an earlier takeover offer for its British rival. (r.reuters.com/jaj98v)

* Retirement investors are putting more money into stocks than they have since markets were slammed by the financial crisis six years ago. Meanwhile, large investors such as pension funds, banks and insurance companies are showing less appetite for risk. Demand for shares of newly public companies has weakened, and utilities, considered safe when economic growth isn't robust, are the best-performing group this year. (r.reuters.com/vej98v)

* As Apple Inc and Samsung Electronics Co squabble in court over who copied whose phone features, the companies' grip over the smartphone industry is slipping. The two companies account for nearly all smartphone hardware profits. But they are losing market share to Chinese rivals with lower-priced phones, particularly in developing nations. (r.reuters.com/hej98v)

* Mark Fields is set to take over as chief executive of Ford Motor Co on July 1, and he'll face very different set of challenges than those the current boss, Alan Mulally, has tackled over the last eight years. (r.reuters.com/xej98v)

* The New York Stock Exchange agreed to settle allegations it broke rules designed to protect investors, the second such pact in less than two years as the top U.S. securities regulator tries to ratchet up the policing of stock markets. The Big Board, along with affiliated exchanges and a broker, agreed to pay $4.5 million to settle civil charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission that they "repeatedly" broke their own rules or failed to submit rules governing certain activities to the regulator. (r.reuters.com/jej98v)

* J. Crew is developing a new store format aimed at budget-conscious shoppers underscoring the difficulty apparel retailers have had in boosting sales without help from discounts. The new format is called J. Crew Mercantile and will feature merchandise and prices closer to what shoppers would find at J. Crew Factory, the retailer's outlet stores, than what is available in its full-line stores. (r.reuters.com/rej98v)

* Exxon Mobil Corp is pushing ahead with its plans to drill in Russia's Arctic seas - its biggest opportunity to discover untapped deposits of oil and gas - even though deteriorating relations between Moscow and Washington have increased the risks. (r.reuters.com/tej98v) (Compiled by Supriya Kurane in Bangalore)

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