Today in the Fortune 500: GM makes a dent in its government debt, BP faces a lawsuit and Obama urges corporations to spend cash.

December 16, 2010, 6:44 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

GM IS HALFWAY OUT OF DEBT to the US government, which sold the company back its preferred shares for $2.1 billion. Combined with the money made for taxpayers with GM’s (GM) IPO earlier this month, the car company has repaid $23.1. Only $26.4 billion to go. [New York Times]

WELLPOINT STOCK STAYS HEALTHY despite the fact that a Virginia judge ruled that the part of the health care reform bill that requires people to get insurance is unconstitutional. Stocks didn’t dive, apparently because investors in major health care companies such as Wellpoint (WLP) had anticipated bumps in the road towards a national health care policy. [Indianapolis Business Journal]

OIL LAWSUITS IN THE NEWS include the one that the US government is bringing against BP (BP) and eight other companies associated with the Gulf oil spill. The lawsuit stipulates that the companies would be financially responsible for all cleanup, regardless of the cost. The companies are charged of violating the US Clean Water Act and Oil Pollution Act. BP shares fell following the announcement. [BBC]

Also, ExxonMobil (XOM) is facing lawsuits from two environmental groups for releasing 8 million pounds of pollution into the air over the past five years, in violation of the Clean Air Act. The two groups, the Sierra Club and Environmental Texas have alerted Exxon of a 60-day notice to sue. [Bloomberg Businessweek]

UNCLE SAM WANTS YOU TO SPEND President Obama told CEO’s from 20 of America’s largest companies that their cash was doing no good in their pockets. To truly help the economy, he said, corporations need to start spending again. Three tech companies holding on to the most green were there: Cisco (CSCO) has $39.9 billion to burn, Google (GOOG) is sitting on $30.1 billion and Intel (INTC) has $18.3 billion. [CNNMoney]

WALMART’S TOY (WAR) STORY To prevent getting financially slammed for sales of cheap toys this year, Wal-mart Stores (WMT) is bumping up prices for about 1,800 kinds of toys in each of its roughly 3,800 stores. Walmart’s strategy of selling toys at extremely low prices hasn’t helped them capitalize on November’ s huge sales numbers. Now, it’s applying it’s new mark-up strategy to try to compete with major toy retailers Target (TGT) and Toys “R” Us (TOY). [Bloomberg Businesweek]

HOGS HIT THE ROAD in India. The first Indian-made Harley-Davidson (HOG) motorcycles will go on sale in the new year. Despite having one of the worst national traffic records in the world, India is one of the fastest-growing markets for two-wheeled vehicles. [BBC]