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Best Buy to cut ties with Huawei; Reckitt Benckiser ends talks for Pfizer unit

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Best Buy to cut ties with Huawei; Reckitt Benckiser ends talks for Pfizer unit

TOP NEWS

* Best Buy Co. Inc. will stop selling Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.'s products after U.S. officials raised concerns about the phone manufacturer's affiliations with the Chinese government, Bloomberg reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. The move of the consumer electronics retailer follows that of mobile carriers Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc., which have withdrawn from agreements with Huawei to sell its smartphones in the country.

* British consumer goods company Reckitt Benckiser Group PLC said it ended negotiations for part of Pfizer Inc.'s consumer healthcare business that sells branded over-the-counter products. Drug developer GlaxoSmithKline PLC has the leading bid in the auction, topping a competing bid from Reckitt Benckiser, according to a report by the Financial Times. Both companies submitted their final offers for the pharmaceutical giant's unit, which could be sold for as much as $20 billion, before the March 21 deadline.

TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS

* New Look is set to close 60 of its 593 stores in the U.K. as well as six of its subleased locations after the company's creditors approved its plan aimed at helping the British fashion retailer improve its operations. The London-based company said challenges in the trading and retail environment drove New Look to reduce its store count, resulting in the potential loss of about 980 jobs.

* Ted Baker PLC's share fell 6.8% after the U.K. fashion brand said sales had been impacted by bad weather in Europe and the U.S. Unseasonal weather "had an impact on the early part of trading for spring/summer and we anticipate that external trading conditions will remain challenging across many of our global markets," it said in a statement. Ted Baker reported adjusted EPS for the fiscal year ended Jan. 27, 2018, rose 12% year over year to 127.7 pence from 114 pence, exceeding an S&P Capital IQ-compiled mean consensus of analysts' estimates of 127 pence.

* Online apparel retailer YOOX Net-A-Porter Group SpA revamped the online store of Scuderia Ferrari, owned by Italian car manufacturer Ferrari NV, allowing the Formula One racing unit access to YNAP's technology and logistics network that caters to 101 markets.

MULTILINE RETAIL

* U.S. department store chain Nordstrom Inc. partnered with shoe distributor Stadium Goods, bringing the New York-based e-commerce company into Nordstrom's first stand-alone men's outlet opening in April, CNBC reported.

E-COMMERCE

* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s cross-border e-commerce platform Tmall Global is looking to open six new procurement centers worldwide to encourage more brands to sell their goods in China, according to a post on Alibaba's news site Alizila. Tmall, the largest business-to-customer online retailer for imported goods in China, plans to launch the sites in Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, North America, Europe and Oceania.

* Rakuten Inc. agreed to acquire pet insurer MottoGyutto Small Amount & Short Term Insurance Co. Ltd. for an undisclosed amount, adding to the company's portfolio of insurance companies. Following the deal, expected to complete March 30, subject to customary approvals and closing conditions, MottoGyutto will be rebranded as Rakuten Small Amount & Short Term Insurance. The Japanese online retailer also recently completed its tender offer for shares of nonlife insurer Asahi Fire & Marine Insurance Co. Ltd.

FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING

* Grocer Albertsons Cos. Inc. will expand the range of items it sells online by mid-2018, allowing both new brands from major manufacturers as well as products from emerging players to ship items directly to customers who order them. Albertsons, meanwhile, will be able to collect data on sales of individual products, Senior Vice President of Digital Marketing and e-commerce Narayan Iyengar told S&P Global Market Intelligence in an interview at Shoptalk 2018 in Las Vegas. The company will then use the information to make decisions about which products will move to shelves at its physical stores.

* CVS Health Corp. installed safe medication disposal units inside two CVS Pharmacy locations in New Hampshire, expanding its program in the U.S. that aims to combat addiction by facilitating proper disposal of opioids and other medications. The drugstore chain also donated 15 disposal units to police departments in New Hampshire and committed over $60,000 in funding SOS Recovery Community Organization, Hope on Haven Hill and Concord Hospital, which are all involved in opioid abuse prevention.

* Conviviality PLC arranged meetings with its investors to raise £125 million that the U.K.-based food distributor will use to fund operations and settle debt, including a £30 million outstanding credit facility with the government tax authority.

HYPERMARKETS AND SUPERCENTERS

* Walmart Inc. plans to use its proposed investment in online retailer Flipkart India Pvt. Ltd. to build food and grocery facilities in India as it targets to best Amazon.com Inc. in the country, unnamed industry executives told The Economic Times.

HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL

* Ulta Beauty Inc. asked an Illinois federal court to dismiss a February class-action lawsuit accusing the cosmetics company of repackaging and reselling used products as it shifted the liability to the customer filing the suit, Women's Wear Daily reported. The U.S.-based retailer reportedly said in response to the allegations that damages, if any, experienced by the complainant were the responsibility of other parties that Ulta Beauty "had no control" over, adding that injuries caused were not "irreparable."

INDUSTRY NEWS

* A U.S. trade official reiterated long-standing charges that China forces U.S. companies to share intellectual property, perhaps signaling the Trump administration's official findings justifying the reported imposition of up to $60 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports. The official, who is with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, said the administration recognizes the "gravity" of the situation and is considering the possibility of Chinese retaliation for the actions it takes when the investigation is completed. That came after U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told members of the House Ways and Means Committee that President Donald Trump will make a decision on Chinese imports in the "very near future," adding that his office will use an "algorithm" to calculate the proper remedy.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng fell 1.09% to 31,071.05, and the Nikkei 225 was up 0.99% to 21,591.99.

In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.60% to 6,996.71, and the Euronext 100 fell 0.92% to 1,014.11.

On the macro front

The jobless claims report, the FHFA house price index, the PMI Composite Flash report, the leading indicators report, the EIA natural gas report, the Kansas City fed manufacturing index, the fed balance sheet and the money supply report are due out today.

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