* LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE agreed to acquire British high-end hotel operator Belmond Ltd., confirming earlier media reports. The French luxury fashion group said it paid Belmond $25 per share, representing an equity value of $2.6 billion in a deal with an enterprise value of $3.2 billion. The owner of luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton and Givenchy said the move will help the company grow its presence in the hospitality sector.
* Costco Wholesale Corp. said fiscal first-quarter GAAP EPS and net income rose faster than analyst expectations. Diluted EPS for the 12 weeks ended Nov. 25 of $1.73 surpassed the S&P Global Market Intelligence mean consensus estimate for GAAP EPS of $1.62. Net income attributable to Costco for the quarter of $767 million beat the S&P Global Market Intelligence mean consensus estimate for GAAP net income of $715.6 million. Separately, the warehouse club operator is testing lockers that allow customers to pick up purchases made online, Executive Vice President and CFO Richard Galanti told analysts during a call to discuss fiscal first-quarter results.
TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS
* L Brands Inc. said it will sell its lingerie brand La Senza to an affiliate of private equity firm Regent LP for an undisclosed amount. The deal includes La Senza's home office organization, North American stores and e-commerce and international partnerships. The specialty retailer expects to close the deal in January 2019.
* Swedish apparel retailer H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB said it will open its new H&M Home concept store in central London in the spring of 2019. The two-story store has a total area of about 700 square meters.
* New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood has sued Target Corp., Walmart Inc. and LaRose Industries LLC over the import, distribution and sale of lead-contaminated toys. Underwood said LaRose and Target imported and distributed thousands of the children's Cra-Z-Jewelz jewelry-making kits, while Walmart and Target sold them.
* U.S. department store chain Kohl's Corp. said it hired more than 90,000 seasonal associates, exceeding its hiring goals for the 2018 holiday season. In addition to working at more than 1,100 Kohl's stores, the associates have been engaged at credit centers, nine distribution centers and five e-commerce fulfillment centers across the country.
* Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is bringing face-scanning payment technology to brick-and-mortar retailers through its financial subsidiary Ant Financial Services Group, the Nikkei Asian Review reported, citing a company announcement. Ant Financial developed a tablet for stores through which shoppers can pay by scanning their faces instead of paying through other more popular methods, such as scanning a QR code displayed on their mobile phones, the report said.
* Amazon.com Inc. plans to expand its grocery subscription service to Australia in early 2019, The Australian Financial Review reported, citing Amazon Australia country manager Rocco Braeuniger. The Seattle-based e-commerce giant launched Subscribe & Save in 2007, offering discounted grocery items with free shipping.
* U.S. delivery startup Deliv said it is teaming up with 20 retailers including Nike Inc. and Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. amid the increasing demand for same-day delivery services, Reuters reported. The company, which delivers online orders for malls and retailers across the country, raised $40 million in a recent round of funding from investors.
FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING
* Grocery delivery service Instacart is ending its partnership with Amazon.com Inc.'s Whole Foods Market Inc. Instacart will draw down its relationship with the grocer over several months, founder and CEO Apoorva Mehta wrote in a blog post. The first stage, to be completed in February 2019, will remove 243 of the 1,415 personal shoppers that Instacart employs to fill orders at Whole Foods. Instacart said affected employees will be given the opportunity to leave with severance pay or be transferred to another grocer for a bonus.
* Starbucks Corp. is collaborating with Uber Technologies Inc.'s UberEats to launch delivery at nearly a quarter of its company-owned U.S. stores in 2019, the coffee giant said during its investor conference. The company earlier in the year launched pilot delivery programs in Tokyo and Miami, a spokesperson told S&P Global Market Intelligence in an email.
* U.S. on-demand delivery platform Postmates Inc. introduced a robot called Serve that will deliver food to customers, Bloomberg News reported. The four-wheeled robot, which can carry 50 pounds, will initially be tested in Los Angeles and then rolled out to other cities across the U.S. in the next 12 months.
HYPERMARKETS AND SUPERCENTERS
* The U.K.'s Competition and Markets Authority delayed its plan to hand down initial results of its review of J Sainsbury PLC and Walmart Inc.-owned Asda Stores Ltd.'s proposed merger. The regulator previously said it expects to issue its provisional findings "early next year," but its updated timetable said the findings will be released in January or "early February." The CMA still expects to publish the final report in early March.
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The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng decreased 1.62% to 26,094.79, while the Nikkei 225 was down 2.02% to 21,374.83.
In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.80% to 6,822.14, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.97% to 941.36.
On the macro front
The U.S. retail sales report, the Industrial Production report, the PMI Composite FLASH, the Business Inventories report and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count 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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