* The U.K. Competition and Markets Authority cleared Hasbro Inc.'s acquisition of Entertainment One Ltd. for about £2.9 billion. The watchdog launched a phase 1 investigation into the deal in November 2019 to assess if the agreement led to a "substantial lessening" of market competition in the U.K.
* Shares of footwear retailer Asics Corp. closed up 2.53% at ¥1,703 on Jan. 16, while Mizuno Corp.'s stock inched up to ¥2,694 following reports that Nike Inc.'s Vaporfly shoes could be banned under World Athletics' new rules. Running athlete Brigid Kosgei used Vaporfly shoes, which have thick soles with carbon fiber plates that can act like springs, when she beat Paula Radcliffe's women's marathon world record in 2019, according to The Times.
TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS
* Associated British Foods PLC-owned apparel chain Primark's first-quarter 2020 sales increased 3% year over year, or 4.5% at constant currency, due to its bigger selling space. Primark expects to open its first store in Bratislava, Slovakia, and another store in Poznan, Poland, expanding its presence to 15 countries. Associated British Foods said its outlook for the year is unchanged, "with progress expected," after posting a 3% year-over-year rise in group revenue, or 4% at constant currency, for the 16 weeks to Jan. 4.
* Moss Bros Group PLC warned that "the year ahead will continue to be challenging" after it reported that total sales for the 24 weeks to Jan. 11 decreased 3% year over year and 3.2% in like-for-like terms. CEO Brian Brick said it will remain a challenging year for the British formal wear retailer until it sees an improvement in consumer confidence, stabilization in footfall in the U.K. and realignment of occupancy costs with benefits of operating physical retail stores.
* Canadian Tire Corp. Ltd. appointed Gregory Craig as its executive vice president and CFO, effective March 2, succeeding Dean McCann, who will retire from the role on the same day but remain a director of Canadian Tire Bank and a trustee of CT REIT. The general merchandise store operator also named Mahes Wickramasinghe as president of Canadian Tire Financial Services, and president and CEO of Canadian Tire Bank, also effective March 2.
* N Brown Group PLC's shares plunged 24.6% after the U.K. digital fashion retailer lowered its profit forecast for fiscal 2020 on the back of weak sales over the holiday season. The owner of Jacamo and Ambrose Wilson cut its estimate for adjusted profit before tax in the year ending April 29 to £70 million to £72 million, down from £78 million to £84.1 million. Revenue in the 18 weeks to Jan. 4 declined 5% year over year, hurt by promotional activity and weaker financial services revenue. N Brown said it expects adjusted pretax profit for fiscal 2021 at the same level as fiscal 2020.
* Amazon.com Inc. opened its first corporate office in the century-old Hanover Building in Manchester, northern U.K., which will house more than 600 new employees in technical and corporate roles.
HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL PRODUCTS
* Beiersdorf AG reported that group sales for fiscal 2019 rose 4.1% organically, or 5.8% in nominal terms, to €7.65 billion as the German company's consumer business posted organic sales growth of 4.8%, while its Tesa adhesive products unit saw a 0.8% increase. Beiersdorf also affirmed its forecast of consolidated EBIT margin from ongoing operations of about 14.5%.
FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING
* Caltex Australia Ltd. entered into a confidentiality agreement with Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. to provide the convenience store operator select nonpublic information, following the latter's proposed acquisition of the Australian fuel company. There is no certainty that the talks between the two companies will result in an improved indicative cash price offer or a binding proposal from Couche-Tard, said Caltex Australia, which had earlier rejected an A$8.66 billion offer made by the Canadian company.
* Nestlé SA will invest up to CHF2 billion in its shift to food-grade recycled plastics from virgin plastics. The company aims to cut its use of virgin plastics by one-third by 2025, in addition to making 100% of its packaging recyclable or reusable in the same period. Nestlé will also launch a CHF250 million venture fund to invest in startup companies that focus on sustainable packaging.
* Sales of British supermarket chain Booths rose 3.5% year over year in the three weeks to Jan. 5, the Financial Times reported. On a like-for-like basis, sales grew 2.7% from the year-ago period. The performance is an improvement from 2017, where the company nearly breached its bank-lending agreements, the report added.
* Companhia Brasileira de Distribuição said consolidated sales for fiscal 2019 grew to 61.51 billion Brazilian reais as the Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA subsidiary saw consolidated gross revenue jump to 18.90 billion reais in the fourth quarter. The company, which does business as GPA, posted annual growth of above 40% in its online retail business, driven by the expansion of its delivery models, innovations in its traditional model and opening of its first dark store in Rio de Janeiro.
HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL
* American Outdoor Brands Corp. said director, president and CEO James Debney has exited the Springfield, Mass.-based retailer after its board found that he "engaged in conduct inconsistent with a nonfinancial company policy." The owner of firearm manufacturer Smith & Wesson named Mark Smith and Brian Murphy as co-presidents and co-CEOs of American Outdoor Brands, effective Jan. 15.
* IKEA AB's South Korean unit launched a recall of its India-made Troligtvis travel mugs, which have been sold since 2019, due to health concerns regarding chemicals in the product, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing a company statement. IKEA reportedly said customers will get a full refund regardless of whether they have receipts.
* Bose Corp. will close all of its 119 retail stores across North America, Europe, Japan and Australia "over the next several months" as its shifts to online shopping "in specific markets," the Boston Business Journal reported, citing a company announcement. The company, which predominantly sells audio equipment, declined to specify the number of employees that will be affected by the store closures, the report said. Bose reportedly will retain its physical shops in India, Southeast Asia, South Korea, Greater China and the United Arab Emirates.
* Sa Sa International Holdings Ltd. plans to close about 20% to 25% of its stores, most of which are in tourist areas, within the next 18 months, in a bid to cut costs given "the unabated difficult operating environment" in Hong Kong. "The group will continue to review the market condition and proactively negotiate with the landlords on rental reduction in order to restore store profitability as early as possible," the Hong Kong-based cosmetics retailer said. The announcement comes as Sa Sa posted a 27.3% year-over-year drop in group turnover for the third quarter of fiscal 2019/20 to HK$1.58 billion.
HOTELS, RESORTS AND CRUISE LINES
* U.K. hotel operator Whitbread PLC said total sales increased 1% year over year in the third quarter. In the U.K., sales rose 0.3% from the year-ago period, with like-for-like growth of 1.3%, driven by the positive performance of its food and beverage business. The company said it will launch about 20 hotels in Germany in 2020 and will continue to expand its open plus committed pipeline of about 48 hotels.
* Retail sales in South Africa rose 2.6% year over year in November 2019, according to the country's statistics department. The growth was primarily driven by general dealers, retailers in textiles, clothing, footwear and leather goods, and retailers in food, beverages and tobacco in specialized stores. On a seasonally adjusted basis, retail trade sales grew 3.1% from October 2019.
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The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng gained 0.38% to 28,883.04, while the Nikkei 225 was up 0.07% to 23,933.13.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.43% to 7,609.75, and the Euronext 100 decreased 0.10% to 1,156.67.
On the macro front
The jobless claims report, the Philadelphia Fed business outlook survey, the retail sales report, the import and export prices report, the business inventories report, the housing market index, the EIA natural gas report, the treasury international capital, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply report are due out today.
Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.
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