March 19, 2009 / 5:21 AM / 8 years ago

PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - March 19

6 Min Read

March 19 (Reuters) - The following were the top stories in The Wall Street Journal on Thursday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

* Some top American International Group (AIG.N) employees have agreed to return hefty retention bonuses under mounting public outrage over $165 million in payouts.

* The U.S. Federal Reserve will buy up to $300 billion in long-term Treasurys and billions more in mortgage-backed securities, as rates already are near zero.

* Sun Microsystem Inc's JAVA.O sale to IBM (IBM.N) would mark an inglorious end to an industry leader that once boasted it put "the dot in dot-com."

* In another example of the unintended consequences of the government's deep involvement in the financial markets, some hedge funds have suffered losses on a trade they thought would be easy money based on the latest bailout of Citigroup Inc (C.N).

* A New York state judge rejected a bid by Bank of America Corp (BAC.N) to keep details confidential about individuals who got bonuses at Merrill Lynch & Co on the eve of its merger with the Charlotte, North Carolina-bank.

* Sony Electronics Inc is pairing with Google Inc (GOOG.O) to battle Inc (AMZN.O) in the growing digital books market.

* U.S. migration slowed sharply last year, as a weak housing market and job insecurity forced many to stay put.

* Fannie Mae FNM.P is due to pay retention bonuses of between $470,000 and $611,000 this year to some executives, despite enormous losses at the government-backed mortgage company. Fannie's main rival, Freddie Mac FRE.P, also plans to pay such bonuses but hasn't yet provided details.

* Kuwait's ruler dissolved parliament and called for elections, a move that could end weeks of a deadlock that has stalled a bailout program for the Gulf nation's banks.

* U.S. rail giant Union Pacific Corp (UNP.N) has been accused of transporting illegal drugs, virtually all marijuana, aboard trains it leased coming in from Mexico on 58 occasions since late 2001, according to court papers and evidence filed in a dispute between the company and U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

* President Barack Obama said he will take the blame for bonuses being paid at American International Group Inc (AIG.N) if it will settle an intense finger pointing under way over how such payments were possible at a company that has received tremendous taxpayer aid.

* Apple Inc (AAPL.O) rolled out new tools for developers that build and sell content for the iPhone, allowing programmers to make software they couldn't before.

* Oracle Corp ORCL.O, in a sign it is holding up in the recession, said it would issue a dividend for the first time and posted a 2 percent revenue increase and a 1 percent drop in earnings for its fiscal third quarter.

* In a move that could shake up the private student-loan market, SLM Corp's Sallie Mae is replacing its private loan with a shorter-term one that requires borrowers to make monthly interest payments while they are in school.

* Policy makers in the U.K. and Germany set out plans to place a much heavier regulatory burden on banks and other financial institutions.

* European Union leaders are hoping at a summit that starts Thursday to agree on a small energy-focused stimulus package they have been arguing over for months.

* The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which was set up as communism crumbled to help ease former Soviet bloc countries into capitalism, is scrambling to help Eastern European banks hit by what may be capitalism's biggest crisis since the Great Depression.

* BMW AG (BMWG.DE) stuck to its profitability targets for 2012, but said it couldn't make a reliable forecast for this year as it expects global auto markets to remain distressed.

* The decision by Dubai's Emirates Airline to yank its new Airbus A380 jetliners from service to New York is the latest blow to the reputation of the world's largest passenger plane just as it was starting to recover from a troubled development.

* Madoff firm's auditor was charged with fraud for conducting sham audits that helped keep up the Ponzi scheme.

* Paper maker Stora Enso (STERV.HE) warned of large production cuts and plunging first-quarter profit as the economic downturn continues to plague the forest-products industry.

* Many Spanish savings banks are in trouble amid the collapse in construction and an ensuing jump in delinquent loans.

* Starbucks Corp (SBUX.O) Chief Executive Howard Schultz said the coffee chain would combat the notion that its drinks are expensive, as he outlined plans to weather an economic downturn.

* The Bank of England's third reverse auction, part of its recently implemented quantitative easing policy, was viewed as a moderate success by analysts after the bank comfortably achieved its target of buying back three billion pounds ($4.19 billion) of conventional gilts from the market.

* A U.S. Food and Drug Administration panel said a proposed heart drug from Sanofi-Aventis SA (SASY.PA) should be approved to treat a common heart rhythm disorder.

* Roche Holding AG's ROG.VX new rheumatoid arthritis treatment might have been a causal factor in the death of 15 out of nearly 5,000 people who took the drug in Japan, with serious side effects such as pneumonia and severe fever detected in over 200 people, Roche's Japanese partner said.

* Offshore deals set up by Barclays Plc (BARC.L) are being probed to see whether they helped the bank and others cut their tax bills.

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