PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - July 25

July 25 Fri Jul 25, 2014 1:17am EDT

July 25 (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.

* The U.S. believes Russia is firing artillery across its border at Ukrainian military positions, the State Department said, an assertion that Moscow is playing a more direct role in the conflict. (on.wsj.com/1jXUWsX)

* An Air Algérie jetliner with at least 116 people on board crashed in northern Mali on Thursday, the airline and officials in Africa said. (on.wsj.com/1nYQ7uJ)

* Demand for new homes slowed sharply during the first half, a development that threatens to reverberate beyond the housing market and throughout the broader economy. Sales of new single-family homes fell 4.9 percent through the first six months of the year and June sales fell 8.1 percent from the prior month, according to Commerce Department data. (on.wsj.com/1x9huHU)

* After years of fighting for survival, U.S. airlines are finally able to show investors the money. American Airlines Group Inc said on Thursday it will buy back $1 billion of its stock and begin paying a quarterly cash dividend of 10 cents a share. United Continental Holdings Inc said it will launch a $1 billion share repurchase plan over the next three years. (on.wsj.com/1qDpgwf)

* GM on Thursday reported a profit of $278 million, off 80 percent from a year earlier. A $2.5 billion pretax bill for safety recalls and a victims' compensation fund slashed General Motors Co's second-quarter profit and highlighted the work it must do to close a profitability gap with rival Ford Motor Co, which reported stronger results for the quarter ahead of a critical product launch. (on.wsj.com/1kXV3A9)

* Argentina hasn't made many friends on Wall Street. But that hasn't stopped bankers from trying to bring the country back into the bond market. The largest financial firms spent much of the first part of 2014 devising an escape route for Argentina from a legal standoff with some hedge-fund bondholders that threatens to throw the nation into default for the second time in 13 years. (on.wsj.com/1qDqBmH)

* Wal-Mart Stores Inc's U.S. chief, Bill Simon, will leave the company on Aug. 8 and will be replaced by Asia head Greg Foran, a New Zealander who has never worked in the United States. Foran steps into the job at a time when Wal-Mart's U.S. namesake stores are stuck in a rut. (on.wsj.com/1pOQLxL)

* Barclays PLC fired back against New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, arguing that the prosecutor used misleading information and cherry-picked facts to support his allegation that the bank lied to its clients about the activity of high-speed traders in its "dark pool." (on.wsj.com/1rAXUES)

* OSI received one of its first pieces of good news in days as McDonald's said it would stick with the meat provider in China, using OSI's other factories in China, despite saying earlier this week it may have been misled by officials at Shanghai Husi Food. The burger giant's vote of confidence signaled OSI's importance to McDonald's and points to the close ties the companies have formed over six decades. (on.wsj.com/1rEFRiL)

* Investors are selling junk bonds at the fastest pace in more than a year, as fresh interest-rate fears and geopolitical turmoil amplify valuation concerns following a long rally. Prices on bonds issued by lower-rated U.S. companies tumbled to a three-month low this week, according to a Bank of America Merrill Lynch index. (on.wsj.com/1mLki8q)

* Zillow Inc is in advanced talks to buy rival online real-estate information service Trulia Inc, in a deal that could give their fast-growing websites even more power in the home-sale market. Terms of the potential deal couldn't be learned, but Trulia's stock-market value was nearly $2 billion. (on.wsj.com/1nzadQt)

* Comcast Corp, the largest cable operator in the United States, has quietly begun extending fiber optic cable all the way to customers' homes in certain parts of its service area, a significant shift that could help the company better compete with all-fiber providers like Verizon Communications Inc and Google Inc on internet speeds. (on.wsj.com/1lBLeb2)

* Proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services is challenging the nearly $49 million 2013 pay package given to Sprint Corp's chief executive and opposing the re-election of a board member to the compensation committee. ISS said it opposes Sprint Chief Executive Dan Hesse's pay package because a special equity award of $18.7 million was entirely time-based, lacking connection to any performance criteria.(on.wsj.com/1rQw2f0)

* U.S. President Barack Obama threw himself into the politically charged effort to block U.S. firms from reincorporating overseas for tax reasons, calling the relocations "wrong" and urging Congress to stop them through quick-fix legislation. (on.wsj.com/WNHbTz) (Compiled by Rishika Sadam in Bangalore)

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