PRESS DIGEST-Wall Street Journal - Aug 21

Thu Aug 21, 2014 12:56am EDT

Aug 21 (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.

* U.S. Special Operations forces mounted an unsuccessful mission inside Syria earlier this summer to try to rescue several Americans held by Islamic extremists, including the journalist who was beheaded this week, senior Obama administration officials said. (on.wsj.com/1AzOooQ)

* Bank of America Corp is expected to pay a record settlement of nearly $17 billion over its mortgage lending as early as Thursday, according to people familiar with the matter, capping a legal odyssey that has dogged it since the depths of the financial crisis. (on.wsj.com/1pgsRhm)

* U.S. air strikes have driven some ground commanders of the Sunni radical group Islamic State from northern Iraq across the border into Syria, Iraqi officials say. (on.wsj.com/1rnn8ZG)

* Investors are pouring money into Vanguard Group, the epitome of the hands-off approach to investing, flocking to funds that track market indexes and are not run by stock pickers or star managers. (on.wsj.com/1vk6Y14)

* Wall Street banks, under pressure to improve working conditions for junior employees, are raising salaries. A host of big banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Morgan Stanley have decided to lift pay or are seriously considering the move for many junior bankers. The pay increases, which are coming in the form of salaries as opposed to year-end bonuses, could hit 20 percent to 25 percent at some firms. (on.wsj.com/XBDl0q)

* Russia temporarily closed four McDonald's Corp restaurants in Moscow, citing sanitary violations, amid the country's most-serious confrontation with the West since the Cold War. (on.wsj.com/VFypWR)

* Law enforcement's battle against Symantec Corp's Norton, Intel Corp McAfee brands and others gained new attention this month after anonymous activists published documents from FinFisher GmbH, a secretive German firm that sells computer code to help governments snoop on targets. Amid customer names and secret price lists, the cache exposed complaints from authorities that antivirus programs had thwarted their planned surveillance. (on.wsj.com/1ncbw4p)

* Argentina's options are dwindling after its latest proposal to exit default by sidestepping a U.S. court order met with skepticism in financial markets on Wednesday. Argentine bond prices slipped and the black-market peso tumbled to a record low against the dollar the day after Argentine President Cristina Kirchner proposed that investors holding defaulted bonds swap them for new debt governed by Argentine law. (on.wsj.com/1q1zWRR)

* African governments are on pace to issue a record amount of bonds in 2014 for a second consecutive year, jumping at the opportunity to borrow at low interest rates to fund infrastructure and other spending. But global investors' appetite for African bonds may be testing its limit. (on.wsj.com/1sW16x2)

* U.S. Federal Reserve officials debated at their July policy meeting whether they might need to raise interest rates sooner than expected in light of a strengthening recovery, but they were restrained by lingering doubts about whether the economy's gains would persist. (on.wsj.com/1sVwCLG)

* North Carolina lawmakers on Wednesday passed a new legislation to regulate coal-ash pits and clean up decades of toxic waste generated by coal-burning electricity plants. (on.wsj.com/1wb81ou)

* A handful of private-equity firms are vying to buy American Tire Distributors Holdings Inc in an auction that could fetch more than $3 billion, according to people familiar with the matter. (on.wsj.com/1p01CCA)

* Glencore Plc said it would buy back $1 billion in shares and avoid expensive expansion projects. But Chief Executive Ivan Glasenberg signaled possible interest in mining assets that BHP Billiton Plc plans to spin off. (on.wsj.com/1mo1hdh)

* A federal judge handed a legal victory to drugmaker Hospira Inc by suspending the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's decision this week to allow the marketing of certain generic copies of Hospira's top product, the sedative Precedex. (on.wsj.com/1oTfBzW)

* Activist investor Carl Icahn on Wednesday disclosed an 8.5 percent stake in Hertz Global Holdings Inc and said he may seek board representation. (on.wsj.com/1vk0Iqg)

* Hong Kong investor Tony Fung's bet on Australia's gambling industry has won support from the country's competition regulator, which said it would not block the planned 216.8 million Australian dollar ($200.5 million) acquisition of a casino in tropical Cairns. (on.wsj.com/1pgnD5m)

* Dong Nguyen, the man behind the world-wide mobile gaming sensation "Flappy Bird" has unleashed his newest effort. The Vietnamese developer whose famously challenging title winged its way to the top of the App Store and Google Play earlier this year, on Thursday released his newest work, called "Swing Copters." (on.wsj.com/1wbhE6t) (1 US dollar = 1.0812 Australian dollar) (Compiled by Rama Venkat Raman in Bangalore)

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