Feb 28 (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.
* With across-the-board spending cuts set to begin in the United States on Friday, the White House and congressional Republicans are poised to let the deadline pass, each calculating that their hand in negotiations only grows stronger if they scorn a quick compromise.
* The probe of potential insider trading ahead of this month’s $23 billion buyout of H.J. Heinz Co has widened, as regulators and criminal investigators scrutinize what they see as suspicious purchases of stock in the ketchup maker, according to people familiar with the inquiries.
* The European Union reached a preliminary deal on a measure that would forbid bonuses that exceed a bankers’ fixed salary in the latest effort to curb what is seen by many as corporate and banking excess. Flexible pay could increase to twice fixed salary, but only with explicit shareholder approval.
* Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe moved a step closer to having a proponent of his aggressive monetary easing policies, Haruhiko Kuroda, become head of the Bank of Japan after the cabinet submitted its nominee for the top job to parliament.
* Lithium-ion battery maker GS Yuasa Corp told the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration that it believes Boeing Co’s proposed package of fixes to end the six-week grounding of 787s is inadequate to mitigate all potential battery hazards.
* The U.S. military, stepping up efforts to equip the Afghan Air Force, awarded a long-delayed $427.5 million contract to Sierra Nevada Corp and its Brazilian partner Embraer SA , to supply Afghanistan with a small fleet of attack planes.
* Leap Wireless International Inc, which operates the Cricket cellphone brand, said it is on pace to sell only half as many iPhones as it committed to sell during the first year of its contract with Apple Inc, and could have $100 million worth of unsold iPhones by the middle of this year.
* Mongolia has suspended two mining permits for a Canadian gold and copper explorer partly owned by Rio Tinto Plc, signaling a possible deepening in a dispute over the huge Oyu Tolgoi development in the Gobi Desert.
* Caesars Entertainment Corp has been crafting a plan to use online gambling to help pull itself out of a financial tight spot - a tactic that could get a boost from New Jersey, America’s coming regulated market for Internet wagers.
* U.S. federal investigators subpoenaed shopping center owner Kimco Realty Corp in a probe of alleged foreign bribery involving retailer Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
* Tom Mars, Wal-Mart Stores Inc chief administrative officer, will leave the retailer on March 13 after more than a decade with the company. A Wal-Mart spokesman declined to provide a reason for his departure.