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Costco's April sales up 13.1% YOY; Morrisons posts increase in Q1'18 sales

TOP NEWS

* Costco Wholesale Corp. reported $10.81 billion in net sales for the month of April, up 13.1% from $9.56 billion a year ago. The Washington-based retail chain said its total comparable sales were up 10.9%, with its Canada unit posting the highest growth at 14%. Meanwhile, Costco made $92.24 billion in net sales for the 35 weeks of the fiscal year ended May 6, representing a 12.2% increase from $82.24 billion during the same period last year.

* Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC reported a 3.6% increase in group like-for-like sales, excluding fuel, for the 13 weeks ended May 6, driven by a 1.8% growth in retail sales and a 1.8% sales increase from the wholesale channel. However, according to a report by the Financial Times, Morrisons' executives declined to comment on the transaction between U.K. rival J Sainsbury PLC and Walmart Inc.'s local unit, Asda Stores Ltd., during a call to discuss results.

FOOD RETAIL AND DISTRIBUTION

* South Korean discount store chain operator E-Mart Inc. started a three-week test run of its robot-assisted concierge service at one of its stores in Seoul, Yonhap News Agency reported. The company said the robot, developed by Japan's Softbank Robotics Corp., can provide product information, introduce items on sale and answer frequently asked questions.

* U.S.-based supermarket operator SuperValu Inc. said it completed the sale and leaseback of seven of its distribution centers as part of its plan to divest eight of its warehouses. The eighth warehouse is expected to be leased by October. The sale of the eight facilities is expected to fetch approximately $483 million in the aggregate purchase price, which the company intends to use to reduce outstanding debt and to partially redeem its outstanding senior unsecured notes due 2021.

AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS

* China's COFCO International Ltd. plans to purchase more soybeans from Brazil amid trade tensions between the U.S. and the Asian country, Bloomberg News reported, citing a source with direct knowledge of the matter. The agricultural products company recently hired 12 people in its grain-buying team to work directly with farmers in Mato Grosso, Goiás, Paraná and Rio Grande do Sul states, the report added.

PACKAGED FOODS

* Australia-based salad dressings maker Red Kellys No1 Pty. Ltd. issued a recall of its Tasmania Creamy Caesar dressing sold at all Woolworths Group Ltd. supermarkets in Australia due to the presence of undeclared allergens. According to a statement posted on the New South Wales Food Authority's website, subject to the recall are 250-milliliter bottles of Red Kellys-branded Tasmania Creamy Caesar dressing.

* Nestlé SA's Indian unit said its board has approved a proposal to introduce breakfast cereals from Cereal Partners Worldwide in the local market in 2018. Cereal Partners Worldwide is a joint venture between the Swiss food group and U.S.-based General Mills Inc.

* Saudi Arabian food products company Savola Group Co. reported a loss in the first quarter of 2018 due to lower sales in food and retail and a higher share of a loss from an associate. The company reported a net loss of 84.3 million riyals for the three months ended March 31, compared with a profit of 4.8 million riyals in the year-ago period.

* Brazil-based chicken processor Cooperativa Central Aurora Alimentos said it will halt one of its eight poultry plants for 30 days due to adverse market conditions in the face of trade bans and higher feed costs, Reuters reported. The privately owned firm reportedly said the 1,283 workers employed at the Santa Catarina-based plant will be sent on paid leave from July 2.

RESTAURANTS

* Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. has seen a 667% increase in its weekly delivery orders following its partnership with food delivery service provider DoorDash Inc. The U.S. restaurant chain said it has delivered from more than 1,500 Chipotle locations in the U.S. through DoorDash since it started the partnership April 30.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* The U.K. may see an increase in food prices and shortages of some products after Brexit if it fails to strike a trade agreement with the EU, according to a report by the House of Lords EU Committee. Following Brexit, food imports are likely to face an average tariff of 22%. The report added that the government should introduce a food security policy.

The day ahead

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a mixed opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng rose 0.89% to 30,809.22, while the Nikkei 225 was up 0.39% to 22,497.18.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.35% to 7,635.86, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.16% to 1,068.16.

On the macro front

The consumer price index, the jobless claims report, the EIA natural gas report, the Treasury budget report, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply report are due out today.

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