Oct 3 (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.
* Obama and congressional leaders met for the first time since the federal government shut down, emerging with no evidence of progress toward resolving their impasse over spending and health care. ()
* Activist hedge-fund manager William Ackman has restructured his big bet against Herbalife Ltd to protect against further paper losses. Ackman said he wanted to mitigate his firm’s risks while still providing for big gains if Herbalife shares decline within the near future, as he expects. ()
* Federal prosecutors are investigating whether the top executive at Cantor Fitzgerald LP’s gambling unit participated in his company accepting illegal sports bets, according to people familiar with the matter. ()
* The United States is overtaking Russia as the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas, a startling shift that is reshaping markets and eroding the clout of traditional energy-rich nations. ()
* Dan Loeb is adding art criticism to his investor activism, accusing the management of auction powerhouse Sotheby’s of failing to understand what kind of art sells best. The hedge fund manager is seeking to oust William Ruprecht as the chairman and chief executive officer of Sotheby‘s, claiming the auction house’s leader has failed to grasp the modern art world. Loeb, himself an avid art collector, says he should be on the board. ()
* BlackBerry has drawn the interest of Cerberus Capital and other firms that specialize in distressed investing, according to people familiar with the matter. ()
* The civil case against Bank of America is shining a spotlight on mortgage practices that unfolded more than five years ago. But the testimony so far is also a reminder of how difficult it is to prove outright fraud. ()
* Banks in Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg that own about $1 billion of bankrupt Detroit’s bonds are taking a page out of the hedge fund playbook to carve out their share of the city’s meager cash pile. ()
* After wrangling for months with U.S. regulators over new swaps-trading rules, banks, brokers and investors had a new grievance Wednesday as the regulations took effect: The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s out-of-office message was on. Market participants groused that the agency wasn’t available for guidance following a raft of clarifications on the new rules in recent weeks. Just 4 percent of staffers at the CFTC, the main U.S. regulator for derivatives, were working Wednesday because of the partial government shutdown. ()
* Thousands of customers of MF Global Inc are on the verge of receiving the rest of the estimated $1.6 billion they lost in the collapse of the brokerage in 2011. ()
* A federal appeals court ordered a lower-court judge to halt payments to some Gulf Coast businesses that say they suffered damage after the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In Wednesday’s ruling, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ordered District Court Judge Carl Barbier to craft a “narrowly tailored injunction” that would halt some payouts while the lower court continues to study questions raised by BP PLC .