By Shelley DuBois
January 5, 2011

The Fortune 500 comes out just once a year, but the companies on it make headlines every day. Here then are today’s highlights of news and happenings coming from the biggest names in business.

By Shelley DuBois, reporter

QUALCOMM WANTS TO CASH IN ON CHIPS The tech company, which has thus far focused on wireless technology, is nearing a deal to buy Atheros Communications (ATHR), a company that makes chips, for $3.5 billion. The deal, which was announced at the launch of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, will give Qualcomm (QCOM) a dog in the fight for the smartphone and tablet market. [New York Times]

SHIFTING GEARS The U.S. car business as we know it is changing. Long-dominant automakers Ford (F), General Motors (GM) and Chrysler have to make room for four more at the top. Increased competition will force the former Big Three to stay on the ball with new models. [Wall Street Journal]

EXHIBIT A: CHINA General Motors is still a powerful seller in China, having been the first car company to have sold more than two million cars in the country–now GM’s biggest market. But GM’s growth in China is slower than that of the overall auto industry, as Chinese carmakers starting churning out more vehicles. [Wall Street Journal]

EXHIBIT B: SUVS Consumer Reports magazine gave a thumbs down to Ford’s SUV’s because the new high-tech controls were more likely to confuse customers than make their lives easier. The company has integrated touch-screen controls into its new models that, according to Consumer Reports, are out of touch. [Bloomberg]

THE NEW PAYPHONE Wells Fargo (WFC) really wants this whole mobile payment thing to work out. The company has invested a chunk of change in technology to purchase items via phone rather than a debit or credit card. This month, they’re launching a trial with 200 employees to test it. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

VERIZON JUMPS OFF THE LUGE The telecom company’s ride as the sponsor of USA Luge is over. Replacing Verizon (VZ) in a role that it has had since 1980 will be Norton/Saint-Gobain, a company that makes performance engineered abrasives such as sandpaper and diamond blades. [USA Today]

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