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Papa John's to help franchisees; Heineken may close two Brazilian factories

TOP NEWS

* Papa John's International Inc. is set to lower royalties, food serving prices and online fees charged to its U.S. and Canadian franchisees as a part of its new assistance program. According to the release, the U.S.-based pizza chain also plans to fund the initiatives taken for marketing and rebranding of the chain.

* Brewer Heineken NV is considering closing two factories in Pernambuco, northeastern Brazil, Reuters reported. The company took this "extreme measure" following a court verdict that mandates that the company sell beer and soft drinks below cost price, the report added.

FOOD RETAIL & DISTRIBUTION

* Japanese food retailer Lawson Inc. said its banking unit received necessary approvals to operate in the country. Lawson Bank Inc. received its banking license from Japan's Financial Services Agency and plans to start offering services Oct. 15. Its primary focus will be on retail banking.

RESTAURANTS

* The Illinois-based McDonald's Corp. is rolling out a contest that provides "free food for life," starting Aug. 17 and valid through Aug. 24, USA Today reported. The fast-food giant will reward the winner with its McGold Card, which can be used for two free meals a week for 50 years and is valued at $52,350, the report noted, citing the contest website.

PACKAGED FOODS

* Packaged foods producer Hostess Brands Inc. issued an allergen notice to its customers, mentioning that the company's three snack items, in multipack and single-serve sizes, now contain whole eggs. The products include Chocolate CupCakes, Chocolate Ding Dongs and SnoBalls, and the company is urging consumers to practice caution.

* Shanghai-based Bright Food (Group) Co., Ltd. is set to open a large eco-friendly tourist attraction on Chongming Island, slated to open in August 2019, South China Morning Post reported. It will feature agricultural plantations, hotels and entertainment offerings. According to the report, the 30-square kilometer project will include planting sunflowers and lavenders, building hotels, retail and entertainment facilities, and developing water sports.

* Brazilian food processor BRF S.A. reported a loss of 1,574 million Brazilian reais in the quarter, reflecting the impact of a nationwide truckers' strike and trade embargoes. The company's net operating revenues hit 8,181 million reais, up 1.9% from 8,027 reais a year ago. Sales volume in the second quarter dropped 14% amid trade bans on Brazilian pork and beef by Europe and Russia, the market situation in Hong Kong, and production drop due to the strike, the company said.

AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTS

* Soft wheat harvest in the European Union is forecast to register a dip of 10%, Reuters reported, citing the forecast of French analysts Strategie Grains. Wheat prices have hit five-year highs on looming crop concerns. In Germany, the winter wheat crop is expected to plunge 19.9% year over year to 19.2 million tons after July temperatures soared to the highest level since records began in 1881. Similarly, in France, the crop growth is expected to be drastically low following heatwaves and torrential rains, Reuters added.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* U.K.'s consumer spending in July slid 0.9% compared to the same period of 2017 despite England's strong performance in the World Cup, but food spending rose 3.5% year over year due to the warm weather, Financial Times reported, citing data from Visa Inc. and IHS Markit. The British Retail Consortium data also reiterated that consumers spent the highest on food, despite a dip in consumer spending.

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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 was down 1.52% to 27,936.57. The Nikkei 225 retreated 1.98% to 21,857.43.

In Europe as of midday, the FTSE fell 0.51% to 7,628.81, and the Euronext 100 slipped 0.43% to 1,057.93.

On the macro front

No notable reports 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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