Jan 2 - The following are the top stories on the New York Times business pages on Wednesday. Reuters has not verified these stories and does not vouch for their accuracy.
* Ending a climactic fiscal showdown in the final hours of the 112th Congress, the House late on Tuesday passed and sent to President Obama legislation to avert big income tax increases on most Americans and prevent large cuts in spending for the Pentagon and other government programs. ()
* With the House of Representatives approval of a fiscal agreement late on Tuesday, investors were expecting a rally in the markets to start the New Year. But the surge was not expected to last long, with investors and economists quickly shifting their focus to several hurdles the economy faces in the coming months. ()
* Only the most affluent American households will pay higher income taxes this year under the terms of a deal that passed Congress, but most households will face higher payroll taxes because the deal does not extend a two-year-old tax break. ()
* One of Shell Oil's two Arctic drilling rigs is beached on an island in the Gulf of Alaska, threatening environmental damage from a fuel spill and calling into question Shell's plans to resume drilling in the treacherous waters north of Alaska in the summer. The rig, the Kulluk, broke free from a tow ship in stormy seas and ran aground Monday night. ()
* Energy drinks are the fastest-growing part of the beverage industry, with sales in the U.S. reaching more than $10 billion in 2012 - more than Americans spent on iced tea or sports beverages like Gatorade. ()
* The asset forfeiture unit of the United States attorney's office in Manhattan recovered about $3 billion in crime proceeds in 2012, including a Tyrannosaurus skeleton worth more than $1 million. ()
* An important gauge of China's giant manufacturing sector published on Tuesday showed a third successive month of expansion in December and underlined the view that the world's second-largest economy has settled into a mild rebound that is likely to extend into 2013. ()
* After a year of legal wrangling between the designer Tory Burch and her former husband, Chris Burch, who is also the owner of the clothing retailer C. Wonder, Ms. Burch announced that an agreement had been reached to settle all pending legal claims between the couple. ()
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