* Wal-Mart de México SAB de CV said the Mexican antitrust regulator has expressed its objection to Walmart Inc.'s proposed acquisition of Latin American delivery service Cornershop. "We are analyzing the scope of this resolution and the measures we will adopt, since we are sure that this operation is positive for the competitive environment and for the consumer, and that it drives the development of e-commerce in Mexico," Walmart's Mexican unit said.
* Indian online retailers are supporting digital health startup GOQii Inc.'s lawsuit against Walmart's Flipkart Online Services Pvt. Ltd. for allegedly causing losses to sellers by providing heavy discounts on its e-commerce platform, Reuters reported. GOQii filed a case against Flipkart in May, alleging that it is discounting products by about 70% of the retail price that the two sides had agreed to, the report said, citing legal documents of the case registered in a Mumbai court. Flipkart disputed the complaint saying it was not responsible for any discounts offered by third-party sellers on its e-commerce site, Reuters said.
FOOD RETAIL & DISTRIBUTION
* Asda Stores Ltd., Walmart's U.K. arm, restructured its senior commercial food team to provide suppliers direct access to senior leadership and enable "quicker decision making." Asda said its nonedible grocery segment will be led by Lizzy Massey, while Tracy Ford will head the edible grocery category. Richard Dent was appointed as vice president of its fresh and frozen business. Paul Gillow, vice president of its own brand segment, will now handle commercial strategy.
* Australian retail group Wesfarmers Ltd. appointed Sharon Warburton to its board, effective Aug. 1.
* Unilever PLC's investment arm Unilever Ventures Ltd. led a $10.5 million funding round in Indian grocery delivery startup Milkbasket, The Economic Times (India) reported. In April, Milkbasket reportedly secured 200 million Indian rupees in venture debt from BAC Acquisitions, owned by Flipkart co-founder Sachin Bansal.
* The European Commission has asked spirits makers to come up with a plan to display the number of calories and ingredients in its content labels in a bid to address changing consumer lifestyles, Reuters reported. Trade association spiritsEUROPE said it signed an agreement with 31 national associations and six spirits makers — including Diageo PLC, Pernod Ricard SA, Rémy Cointreau SA, Bacardi-Martini BV, Beam Suntory and LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton SE's Moët Hennessy — to provide energy information and full ingredient listings in its spirits.
* Norwegian packaged foods producer Orkla ASA appointed Jaan Semlitsch its new president and CEO, effective Dec. 1. Semlitsch replaces Peter Ruzicka, who departs from the company May 7. Terje Andersen will serve as acting president and CEO until Semlitsch joins Orkla.
* Brazilian meat processor JBS SA may complete an internal probe into a wide-reaching corruption scandal by September, Bloomberg News reported. J&F Investimentos SA, Joesley and Wesley Batista's holding company, owns JBS. The Batistas, who spent about six months in jail due to the scandal, previously admitted to bribing hundreds of government authorities. In the latest Bloomberg report, JBS will be ready to provide additional evidence, including nearly 220 terabytes of data from mobiles and computers, as well as testimonies from over 600 people, according to Emir Filho, J&F's legal and compliance director. The holding company aims to reach a leniency deal with the U.S. Department of Justice to avoid prosecution under U.S. anti-bribery laws, the report added.
TOBACCO & SMOKING PRODUCTS
* Las Vegas-based cannabis products maker Freedom Leaf Inc. said it has completed its acquisition of ECS Labs LLC for $14 million. The deal includes the purchase of ECS Labs' two wholly owned subsidiaries behind the Colorado-based Green Lotus premium hemp oil products brand. Green Lotus founder and CEO Carlos Frias has been appointed as the new CEO of Freedom Leaf and will sit on the company's board.
* Tennessee-based Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc. maintained its fiscal 2019 revenue and diluted EPS outlook as it reported results for fiscal third quarter ended May 3. The restaurant chain's third-quarter diluted EPS of $2.09 missed the S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus normalized EPS estimate of $2.11, but the figure was higher than the diluted EPS of $2.03 it recorded in the year-ago period. Net income rose to $50.4 million from $48.7 million in the year-ago quarter. Cracker Barrel also raised its quarterly dividend by 4% to $1.30 per share from $1.25 per share. It expects total revenue of about $3.05 billion during the fiscal year, with diluted EPS to come in between $8.95 and $9.10.
* The Beverly Hills City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to prohibit the sale of most tobacco products in gas stations, convenience stores, pharmacies and grocery stores, CNBC reported. The ban, which comes into effect 2021, exempted tobacco sales in high-end cigar lounges and hotels in the city, the report said. The ordinance was reportedly opposed by the National Association of Tobacco Outlets, claiming that local tobacco sellers may face a 25% to 45% drop in monthly sales.
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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 0.50% to 26,895.44, while the Nikkei 225 gained 1.80% to 20,776.10.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 went up 0.59% to 7,256.51, and the Euronext 100 climbed 0.77% to 1,037.96.
On the macro front
The U.S. ADP employment report, the U.S. services purchasing managers' index, the U.S. Institute for Supply Management non-manufacturing index, the U.S. Energy Information Administration petroleum status report and the U.S. Beige Book 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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