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US probes South Korean cigarette imports; Costco Australia sales jump 18% YOY


* The U.S. International Trade Commission launched an anti-dumping duty investigation into cigarettes imported from South Korea following a petition filed by U.S.-based cigarette companies Xcaliber International Ltd. LLC and Cheyenne International LLC, Yonhap News Agency reported. The commission said it will determine whether "there is a reasonable indication" that a U.S. industry is materially injured or threatened due to the imports of South Korean cigarettes that allegedly have prices well below domestic prices.

* Costco Wholesale Corp.'s Australian operations posted revenue of A$2.16 billion for the 52 weeks ended September, marking an 18% jump from A$1.82 billion a year ago, The Australian reported, citing a financial report filed with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. The revenue, which marked the first time the retailer hit the A$2 billion annual sales mark, includes grocery and general merchandise sales as well as its annual membership fees for shoppers.


* China purchased 2.56 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans in November, marking a surge from zero a year ago and 1.147 million tonnes in October, Reuters reported. The increase comes after Beijing exempted importers from heavy tariffs for some American cargoes. Meanwhile, China's soybean imports from Brazil during the month plunged 24% year over year to 3.86 million from 5.07 million tonnes.

* China said it will sell 20,000 tonnes of frozen pork from its state reserves on Dec. 27 to ensure enough supplies before the upcoming Lunar New Year holidays, Reuters reported, citing a notice posted on the website of China Merchandise Reserve Management Center.

* Indonesia would import 60,000 tonnes of buffalo meat for consumers, 129,000 tonnes of beef and buffalo meat for the food industry, and 550,000 head of feeder cattle in 2020, Reuters reported, citing Agung Hendriadi, head of the food security agency at the country's ministry. The government will decide in the week of Dec. 30 who gets the import licenses and the sources, said Hendriadi.

* Vietnam's pork imports more than doubled to 110,000 metric tonnes during the first 11 months of 2019, amid an outbreak of African swine fever in the country, Reuters reported, citing the local finance ministry.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Nikkei 225 was up 0.60% to 23,924.92.

On the macro front

The MBA mortgage applications report, the jobless claims report, the state street investor confidence index, 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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