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PRESS DIGEST - Wall Street Journal - Dec 31

Dec 31 (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.

* In the best year for U.S. stocks since 1995, the smart way to play the markets has been to follow the dumb money. ()

* Private-equity firms are set to return a record amount of cash to their investors for 2013, after taking advantage of buoyant markets to sell hundreds of billions of dollars of investments. ()

* Regulators are set to unleash new business rules in 2014 that will push companies to re-examine issues ranging from their taxes and suppliers to auditor relationships and interest-rate hedges. ()

* Cooper Tire terminated its $2.2 billion merger pact with Indian suitor Apollo Tyres, ending a deal that had unraveled in recent months. ()

* Prices have tumbled 20 percent this year, capping the biggest two-year plunge in a decade and highlighting commodity markets' struggle with a supply deluge. ()

* A feud between Apple and a lawyer appointed by a federal court judge to monitor the company's e-book pricing reform is getting more acrimonious. ()

* Hertz Global Holdings Inc enacted a one-year shareholder-rights plan to prevent investors from gaining sizable control of the car-rental firm, a move the company attributed to "unusual and substantial" trading activity. ()

* Hewlett-Packard Co on Monday said it is in advanced talks with two U.S. regulators to settle investigations concerning allegations of bribery. ()