* Restaurant Brands International Inc.-owned fast food chain Burger King aims to open another 1,000 outlets in China in the next three years in a bid to strengthen its base in the country, China Daily reported, citing Ekrem Ozer, CEO of Burger King (China) Investment Co. Burger King. The U.S. fast food giant, which entered the mainland Chinese market in 2005, reportedly opened its 1,000th Chinese store late-December 2018 in Shanghai.
* Chinese delivery-focused coffee startup Luckin Coffee expects to open 2,500 new stores in 2019 to take its total store count to more than 4,500 outlets by 2019-end, surpassing Starbucks Corp.'s over-3,600 store network in the country, Reuters reported, citing a Luckin Coffee presentation in Beijing. Luckin Coffee, backed by Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC Special Investments Pte. Ltd. and China International Capital Corp. Ltd., is valued at $2.2 billion and reportedly is in early-stage talks with investment banks about an overseas IPO.
FOOD RETAIL & DISTRIBUTION
* U.K. store chain Co-operative Group Ltd. said it plans to open 100 new food outlets, as well as revamp another 200 stores, in 2019 as part of its convenience strategy to connect better with its members and customers. About a third of the planned stores are scheduled to open in London and South East of the U.K. The stores will be supported by a recently announced 661,000 sq. ft. distribution depot in Bedfordshire due to open in 2022. In London, apart from the new stores, the Co-op is also "on track" to open new food-to-go format stores at Baker Street Station and in a railway arch at Minories.
* India's Supermarket Grocery Supplies Pvt Ltd., an Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.-backed online grocer better known as BigBasket, reported that its revenue increased 16.06 billion Indian rupees during the financial year 2017/18, The Economic Times reported.
* Dutch food distributor Sligro Food Group NV posted a 9.6% year-over-year rise in 2018 sales of €2.35 billion, compared with €2.14 billion in 2017. Organic sales rose 1% year over year, helped by Sligro's 2017 partnership with Heineken NV and the purchase of Heineken's wholesale operations, while other organic growth was 3.1%, Sligro said. It will publish additional full-year figures Jan. 24.
* Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated said the company changed its name to Coca-Cola Consolidated Inc., effective Jan. 1. The Coca-Cola Co.-owned bottling company will continue to trade on Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol COKE.
* BRF SA completed the sale of its 91.89% stake in Argentina-based processed food maker Quickfood Sociedad Anonima to Marfrig Global Foods SA. The $60 million deal is part of the restructuring plan BRF announced in June 2018.
* U.S. burrito chain Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. launched a new range of lifestyle bowls, suited for particular diets, available exclusively for in-restaurant pickup or delivery via its mobile app and on Chipotle's online portal. The new line includes a Paleo Salad Bowl, a Keto Salad Bowl, a Whole30 Salad Bowl and a Double Protein Bowl, all of which are available for free delivery, on a minimum order value of $10, at participating Chipotle outlets until Jan. 7.
* McDonald's Corp. is set to release in February a limited-time, breakfast-only, baked product called Donut Sticks in the U.S. after numerous regional tests of baked breakfast items in the past, Business Insider reported, citing internal company documents. Donut Sticks, that will be made of deep-fried dough and sprinkled with cinnamon sugar, reportedly would be priced $1.29 for a six-piece set or $2.39 a dozen. The fast-food giant refused to confirm about the product to the news outlet, but said customers could expect "more delicious and craveable news to come in 2019."
* Plant-based meat-substitute maker Beyond Meat Inc. partnered with CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc.'s restaurant chain Carl's Jr. to introduce the Beyond Famous Star burger, a plant-based version of the restaurant's most iconic Famous Star burger. It contains Beyond Meat's Beyond Burger patty and is available at over 1,000 participating Carl's Jr. restaurants for $6.29, and customers have the option to include the Beyond Burger patty on any Carl's Jr. sandwich for an extra $2, Savage River Inc.-owned Beyond Meat said.
TOBACCO & SMOKING PRODUCTS
* China National Tobacco Corp.'s overseas arm expects its planned Hong Kong listing to raise about $100 million, Reuters reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. The monopoly's unit, China Tobacco International Inc., in a Jan. 2 preliminary filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange said that it plans to go public, but did not disclose further details of the proposed IPO. The state-owned tobacco company did not immediately respond to a request for comment from S&P Global Market Intelligence.
* Global dairy prices rose 2.8% at an average selling price of $2,986 per tonne, according to a twice-monthly auction held by GDT Events, Reuters reported. This is the third straight increase after prices fell for most parts of 2018. However, volumes shrank 20.8% from the Dec. 18, 2018, auction to a total of 28,651 tonnes sold, the report added, which attributed the price reversal to higher-than-expected supply from the world's biggest dairy supplier, New Zealand. The GDT Price Index is released by GDT Events, which is owned by New Zealand-based dairy producer Fonterra Co-op Group Ltd.
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, Hang Seng fell 0.26% to 25,064.36, while the Nikkei 225 was closed today.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.61% to 6,693.36, and the Euronext 100 was down 1.03% to 900.95.
On the macro front
The motor vehicle sales report, the MBA Mortgage applications report, the ADP employment report, the jobless claims report, the ISM manufacturing index, the construction spending 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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