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Oct 20 (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.
* The SEC is examining whether SAC Capital Advisors improperly profited from trades made before the takeover of Cougar Biotechnology by Johnson & Johnson was announced in 2009.
* Under pressure to revive UBS's fortunes and help the firm recover from a rogue-trading scandal, the Swiss bank's interim chief is preparing to shrink its once high-flying investment-banking unit.
* While many American and European manufacturers moved production to low-wage countries, British industrial giant Rolls-Royce has taken a contrarian course. It gravitates to high-wage hotspots.
* Doubts grew about the effectiveness of a key proposal for stemming Europe's deepening debt crisis as it emerged that officials have ruled out a plan for the euro zone's bailout fund to directly guarantee bond issues.
* Groupon is scaling back plans due to market volatility. It is now expected to seek a valuation of less $12.5 billion, down from roughly $20 billion.
* Silver Lake Partners is working with one of its investors, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, and Microsoft to put together a proposal to buy Yahoo .
* Thomas Peterffy, chief executive of Interactive Brokers Group Inc , says computer-driven high-speed trading firms have made the market less efficient-and less safe.
* Asian shares fell as concerns over Europe's ability to come up with a credible fix to the euro zone debt crisis shook confidence, with Sydney slipping to a two-week low. The Nikkei dropped 1 percent.
* Daimler AG dismissed the chief of its U.S. Mercedes-Benz operations earlier this week over the company's allegations he paid for personal expenditures with company money, according to people familiar with the matter.
* Wall Street's total price tag on settlements with U.S. securities regulators for allegedly misleading investors about mortgage bonds churned out ahead of the financial crisis surged past $1 billion with a deal by Citigroup Inc to pay $285 million.
* Labor dispute talks between the NBA and its players union will continue into Thursday, said federal mediator George Cohen, following two marathon mediation sessions.
* Abbott Laboratories will split its drugs and medical products businesses into separate publicly traded companies in the face of growing pricing pressure and looming patent expirations in the challenging pharmaceutical sector.
* Testimony at a parliamentary hearing on Wednesday raised new questions about the evidence News Corp Deputy Chief Operating Officer James Murdoch has given lawmakers in an ongoing phone-hacking inquiry, a development that came just days ahead of a shareholder vote over governance at the company.
* Morgan Stanley reported a $2.15 billion third-quarter profit and provided more details than ever before about its exposure to troubled European debt.
* After securing a contract at Ford Motor Co for about 41,000 workers, the United Auto Workers union is turning its attention to winning ratification at Chrysler Group LLC, the last of the Detroit Three auto makers to accept a proposed agreement.