* The U.K. government is likely to double the cost of single-use plastic bags to 10 pence, up from the current price of 5 pence, as part of its 25-year environment plan. The government also is looking to extend the single-use plastic bag charge to all retailers, while the current law mandates only large businesses to charge 5 pence for each plastic bag. The consultation period for introducing the new plan will run until Feb. 22, 2019.
* India is set to impose new operational restrictions on e-commerce companies including Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc.-owned Flipkart India Pvt. Ltd., Reuters reported. Under the regulations taking effect Feb. 1, 2019, online retailers will not be allowed to sell merchandise from companies in which they hold a stake. They also will be prohibited from making exclusive deals with select sellers and will be required to serve all vendors in a fair and nondiscriminatory manner.
TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS
* Apparel retailer The Gap Inc. is expected to close its store on Fifth Avenue in New York on Jan. 20, 2019, CNBC reported, citing a company spokeswoman. The company declined to comment on the reason for the closure of the three-story Gap store. In November, Gap President and CEO Art Peck told analysts during the company's third-quarter earnings call that it is looking to exit "hundreds" of stores at its namesake brand following its underperformance in the period.
* Under Armour Inc. plans to refocus on being a sportswear company and to prioritize producing clothing for athletes, founder and CEO Kevin Plank told the Financial Times. Plank added that Under Armour is primarily "a performance brand" and that the company "lost focus" because it grew so quickly.
* China's JD.com Inc. has planned restructuring moves that include splitting its JD Mall shopping site into separate businesses and setting up an office of the chief executive, the South China Morning Post reported, citing an internal document obtained from the Chinese e-commerce company. According to the document, JD.com will create a chief executive's office that will help manage reorganization and business reforms, but it did not name any members of the new office.
HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL PRODUCTS
* Hindustan Unilever Ltd., Unilever's Indian subsidiary, is considering "legal options" following the National Anti-Profiteering Authority's decision to fine the company 2.23 billion Indian rupees for not passing on the goods and services tax rate cut benefit to consumers, India's Mint reported. The company said that the NAA's move is "fully consistent" with Hindustan Unilever's stand and actions, but that "no methodology has been determined by NAA as required under law to determine if benefit has been passed or not."
FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING
* Japanese convenience store chain FamilyMart UNY Holdings Co. Ltd. is set to introduce an app-based mobile payment service at its 17,000 stores in July 2019, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. The service, called Famipay, is intended to track customer purchases, help product development and encourage store visits.
CASINOS AND GAMING
* Caesars Entertainment Corp. said it completed the sale of the real estate assets of the Harrah's Philadelphia casino to VICI Properties Inc. The Nevada-based casino operator received $82.5 million in cash in the transaction, which reflects a reduction from the previously announced purchase price of $241.5 million.
* Leisure and hospitality company Genting Bhd. said that Wynn Resorts Ltd. filed a complaint against its indirect wholly owned subsidiary Resorts World Las Vegas LLC alleging trade dress infringement, trademark dilution and copyright infringement over the design of Resorts World's upcoming hotel and casino property in Las Vegas. Resorts World added that it is in the process of reviewing the complaint and that it will defend the claim in court.
* The number of visitors across the U.K.'s high streets, retail parks and shopping centers on Boxing Day fell for the third year in a row, decreasing 3.1% from the year-ago period, according to data recorded until 10 p.m. local time by retail research group Springboard.
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Nikkei 225 increased 3.88% to 20,077.62, while the Hang Seng fell 0.67% to 25,478.88.
In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.92% to 6,624.73 and the Euronext 100 fell 0.15% to 896.32.
On the macro front
The jobless claims report, the Federal Housing Finance Agency House Price index, the consumer confidence report, the farm prices report, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply 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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