Today in the Fortune 500: Pepsi drives a ruble rally, Pfizer CEO steps down and GE gets creative.

December 6, 2010, 6:25 PM UTC
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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

GIVE RUSSIA SOME CREDIT Investors’ hopes that Russia’s credit ratings will improve in response to the potential deal between PepsiCo (PEP) and Russia’s juice and dairy company Wimm-Bill Dan has spurred a rally in the Russian bond market. The Russian government, apparently, has a lower credit rating than Pepsi. [Bloomberg Businessweek.]

DRUGS TAKE A TOLL on Pfizer (PFE) CEO Jeffrey Kindler, who announced his resignation. He said that the round-the-clock responsibilities of running the massive pharmaceutical company have proven “extremely demanding.” [BBC.]

BANKING STIFLES GE’S CREATIVITY (GE) CEO Jeff Immelt revealed some of his company’s efforts to jump-start innovation, which included sending employees to learn business strategies from Google (GOOG) and military academies. He also said that the company was going to focus more on manufacturing physical goods and less on banking, which is what slammed the company during the crisis. [New York Times.]

MAYBE THEY CAN ECOMAGINE A CLEAN HUDSON? Meanwhile, the EPA is set to issue its ruling on December 13 on how GE should continue to clean the chemicals that the company dumped in the Hudson river for thirty years before 1977. GE has been fighting for a cheaper, but possibly more environmentally damaging method. Immelt said that the outcome of the ruling could affect GE’s fourth quarter earnings. [Wall Street Journal.]

CONTINENTAL AIRLINES FOUND GUILTY of involuntary manslaughter surrounding the crash of an Air France Concorde jet in 2000. A French court holds the airline and a mechanic responsible for one of Continental’s (CAL) planes shedding a titanium strip on the runway that the Concorde hit during takeoff, damaging the plane. [Financial Times.]

LIKE A GOOD NEIGHBOR State Farm is still involved with hurricane insurance in Florida, even though the company officially dropped that kind of storm coverage for the state because it became too expensive. A local paper investigates how its stake in a reinsurance company in Bermuda helps State Farm still cash in on ‘canes. [Sarasota Harold-Tribune.]

FORTUNE 500 LEAD STOCK CLIMB last week, causing benchmark indexes to jump the most that they had in a month. Some of the companies with key gains include Home Depot (HD), Bank of America (BAC) and JPMorgan (JPM). [Washington Post.]