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Sears liquidation deadline looms; Amazon India to seek clarity on new rules

TOP NEWS

* Sears Holdings Corp. may liquidate if it does not receive an offer from potential buyers by 4 p.m. ET on Dec. 28, and as of the afternoon of Dec. 27, Chairman Eddie Lampert's ESL Investments Inc. had not submitted a bid or come up with financing to buy the company out of bankruptcy, CNBC reported, citing people familiar with the matter. On Dec. 6, Lampert had shown interest to buy the department store chain for $4.6 billion through hedge fund ESL. CNBC added that only ESL is offering to buy the 125-year-old store chain as a whole, according to the unnamed sources.

* Amazon.com Inc.'s Indian unit said it is assessing the country's new regulations regarding operational restrictions on e-commerce companies "to engage as necessary" with the government for clarity, but the retailer added that it remains "committed to a long-term investment," The Economic Times (India) reported, citing a company statement. Amazon India added that it has "always operated" in compliance with the laws of the country.

E-COMMERCE

* Chinese e-commerce company JD.com Inc. opened two stores at Beijing Capital International Airport and Hohhot East Railway Station in Inner Mongolia. The pop-up store located at the airport is open for the next three months and offers travel items including daily necessities, clothing and luggage. Meanwhile, the 100-square-meter unmanned convenience store at the train station features a facial recognition payment service and smart vending machines.

* Japan's Rakuten Inc. said it completed the previously announced sale of its entire shareholding in Tokyo-based matchmaking services provider O-net Inc. to a new company established by private equity firm Polaris Capital Group Co. Ltd.

HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL PRODUCTS

* The Procter & Gamble Co. said Kenneth Chenault will retire as its director, effective Feb. 13, 2019, to focus on a range of activities in the next phase of his life.

HYPERMARKETS AND SUPERCENTERS

* Japanese retailer Aeon Co. Ltd. and trading company Mitsubishi Corp. are ending their partnership, the Nikkei Asian Review reported, citing a company announcement from Aeon. The companies, which signed a comprehensive business alliance agreement in December 2008, will maintain their ties but without the partnership agreement.

HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL

* U.K. music retailer HMV Group PLC has appointed administrators from accounting firm KPMG as it fell into administration, putting more than 2,200 jobs at risk, The Guardian reported. HMV reportedly said its 125 stores across the U.K. will remain operational while discussions with suppliers and potential acquirers continue. The retailer previously collapsed into administration in 2013 but was acquired by turnaround private equity firm Hilco Capital Ltd.

* Japanese electronics maker Sharp Corp. is planning to spin off its semiconductor operations into two wholly owned subsidiaries, Jiji Press reported. One unit would reportedly comprise the company's semiconductors and sensors business, while the other would be dedicated to its semiconductor lasers. Sharp said the move may happen in April 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 increased 0.10% to 25,504.20, while the Nikkei 225 declined 0.31% to 20,014.77.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 1.80% to 6,703.46, and the Euronext 100 was up 1.69% to 906.87.

On the macro front

The international trade in goods report, the retail inventories report, the wholesale inventories report, the Chicago PMI, the pending home sales index, the EIA Natural Gas Report, the EIA Petroleum Status 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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