PRESS DIGEST- Wall Street Journal - Feb 8

Feb 7 (Reuters) - Following are the top stories in the Wall Street Journal. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.

- The U.S. posted its largest trade deficit on record last year, as global demand weakened amid high inflation, climbing interest rates, disruptions due to the Ukraine war and the pandemic's continued effects.

- Zoom Video Communications Inc is laying off 1,300 employees, or 15% of its staff, becoming the latest technology company to trim its workforce as it adjusts to more normalized trends after a pandemic-fueled growth spurt.

- China's defense minister rejected a request from U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin to speak immediately after the States downed a suspected Chinese spy balloon, the Pentagon said, indicating how the episode has further inflamed the powers' fraught relations.

- U.S. air-safety officials and members of U.S. Congress are raising fresh concerns about recent near-collisions on runways in New York and Texas, close calls that threatened a relatively long stretch without domestic aviation accidents involving major planes.

- U.S. President Joe Biden used his State of the Union address to try to sell Americans on his economic agenda and called for renewed bipartisanship, but his appeals for unity were punctuated by Republican lawmakers' loud objections to his remarks.

- Representatives of Germany and France, Europe's two top economies, proposed new efforts with the U.S. to strengthen supply chains for critical minerals used in electric vehicles and other green-technology products, even as they continued to press the U.S. about its clean energy legislation. (Compiled by Bengaluru newsroom)