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PRESS DIGEST- New York Times business news - Nov 19

Nov 19 (Reuters) - The following are the top stories on the New York Times business pages. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

* Federal officials told a Senate hearing that virtual currencies like bitcoin offered real benefits for the financial system. ()

* Wal-Mart illegally disciplined and fired employees over strikes and protests, the National Labor Relations Board said on Monday. ()

* Maria Bartiromo, one of the first women to become a star on television by reporting on business news, is leaving her longtime home at CNBC for its rival, the Fox Business Network. ()

* The largest category of victims in the vast Ponzi scheme run by Bernard Madoff - those who lost cash through accounts with various middleman funds - will be first in line for compensation from a $2.35 billion fund collected by the Justice Department. ()

* Dropbox, a five-year-old San Francisco start-up that allows users to access stored documents via the web, is seeking funding that would value it at more than $8 billion. ()

* The Justice Department is set to announce a $13 billion settlement with JPMorgan Chase over the bank's questionable mortgage practices in the run-up to the financial crisis, people briefed on the deal said on Monday, as prosecutors and the bank hashed out the final details of the deal. ()

* The Opel unit of General Motors said on Monday that it reached a preliminary agreement with workers to close a factory in Bochum, Germany, at the end of next year, another example of the effort by hard-pressed European automakers to slowly close superfluous manufacturing plants. ()

* Google agreed on Monday to pay $17 million to 37 states and the District of Columbia in a wide-reaching settlement over tracking consumers online without their knowledge. ()

* Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado proposed on Monday tough new limits on leaks of methane and other gases from well sites and storage tanks. Supporters called the limits, which would exceed existing federal rules, the most sweeping in the nation. ()