December 12, 2014 / 7:40 AM / in 3 years

PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - Dec 12

Dec 12 (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 House narrowly passed Thursday a $1.1 trillion spending bill funding the government through September 2015, avoiding a government shutdown just hours before the midnight deadline. (on.wsj.com/1BCv50W)

* CIA Director John Brennan acknowledged some of the agency's officers had used "abhorrent" interrogation techniques on detainees, but forcefully challenged the conclusions of a Senate panel report. (on.wsj.com/1AoKT3q)

* American retailers are getting a gift just in time for the holidays: a sharp drop in gasoline prices that is delivering a welcome boost to the pocketbooks of U.S. consumers. (on.wsj.com/1snk5wg)

* U.S. families' debt burdens have settled at their lowest level in over a decade, putting the economy on a stronger footing relative to global rivals going into 2015. (on.wsj.com/12B4hPJ)

* Citigroup Inc, Goldman Sachs Group Inc and eight other securities firms were fined a total of $43.5 million by regulators who said the companies offered favorable stock research in hopes of winning underwriting business in an initial public offering by Toys "R" Us Inc. (on.wsj.com/16dxUIV)

* Construction company SNC-Lavalin Group will recover $13.3 million as part of a plea agreement in a probe tied to the family of former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. (on.wsj.com/1zXbRPK)

* Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's regulator ordered the companies to begin to make payments to affordable-housing funds next year, a move that will please low-income-housing supporters who have urged the decision for years while triggering the ire of some who think it will increase taxpayer risk. (on.wsj.com/1DkYNt8)

* Halliburton Co, the world's second-largest oilfield-services company, said Thursday it will lay off 1,000 employees outside the United States. (on.wsj.com/13fbAO1) (Compiled by Supriya Kurane in Bengaluru)

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