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Gap calls off Old Navy spinoff plan; Richemont Q3'20 sales up 6%

TOP NEWS

* The Gap Inc. shares jumped more than 6% in late trading Jan. 16 after announcing that it no longer plans to spin off Old Navy and intends to appoint a new CEO to oversee its full portfolio of brands. The company's board has concluded that the "cost and complexity of splitting into two companies" limited the company's ability to create "appropriate value from separation," Robert Fisher, Gap interim president and CEO said in a statement.

* Swiss luxury goods company Compagnie Financière Richemont SA recorded €4.16 billion in sales for the fiscal third quarter ended Dec. 31, 2019, up 6% year over year, or 4% at constant exchange rates. The company saw growth in all of its distribution channels and regions, except Japan, which posted a 1% decline due to lower tourist spending and a stronger yen. The group added that the temporary store closures in Hong Kong had a negative impact on its retail channel. Shares of the company were up more than 4% following the announcement.

TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS

* Prada SpA could put the company up for sale after co-CEO Patrizio Bertelli and his wife, creative director Miuccia Prada, flew to Paris to meet with Kering SA CEO François-Henri Pinault, Women's Wear Daily reported, citing sources. A company spokesperson denied that the company was for sale, the magazine said. A separate source reportedly said Switzerland's Compagnie Financière Richemont SA may also be interested in the Italian luxury house.

* Payless ShoeSource Inc. has emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for a second time and has appointed a new executive team. The company named Jared Margolis, former CAA-GBG Global Brand Management Group president, as its new CEO, while Justo Fuentes will be the new CEO of Payless Latin America, currently the retailer's largest business unit. The U.S. footwear retailer filed for bankruptcy protection in February 2019 after its previous filing in 2017 left the company with "too much remaining debt."

* Sweden's H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB will enter Central America with the opening of its first store in Panama at the end of 2020. The company has signed an agreement with Hola Moda SA, a privately owned company founded by Phoenix Group and Dorben Group that operates international brands in 15 countries across the region, to bring H&M to Central America.

* Footwear retailer Shoe Zone PLC promoted Charles Smith, previously the company's COO, as chairman after serving in the role on an interim basis since August 2019.

* Helen Wilson, currently trading director at Arcadia Group Ltd.-owned fashion retailer Topshop, will join Marks & Spencer Group PLC as head of merchandising for womenswear, the British department store operator confirmed in an emailed statement to S&P Global Market Intelligence. According to a Drapers report, Wilson will join M&S in the spring of 2020.

MULTILINE RETAIL

* Macy's Inc.'s narrative-driven retail concept Story at Macy's teamed up with Leaf Group Ltd.'s fitness and wellness media platform Well+Good LLC to offer a curated line of wellness-focused products and editorial tips focused on sleep, self-care, exercise, hydration, muscle recovery and healthy snacking.

E-COMMERCE

* Amazon.com Inc.'s CEO Jeff Bezos and its senior executives sought $1 billion in economic incentives for real estate projects, on top of the company's expected incentives from its second headquarters project, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. The Seattle-based company mapped out its economic incentive goals since at least 2015, but abandoned the targets in 2018 since it failed to meet them in 2017 and decided that it does not measure success, the report said. Amazon is eligible to incentive programs in states after "having created and maintained a certain number of jobs within the community," a spokesman told the newspaper, adding that the company had no incentive goal for its second headquarters.

* Amazon.com Inc. is looking to create 1 million jobs in India by 2025 as part of its newly announced $1 billion investment in the country, Reuters reported, citing a company statement. Bezos is currently in India for the Amazon SMBhav event for micro, small and medium enterprises. The roles will be in the areas of infrastructure, technology and logistics, the report said.

FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING

* Wm Morrison Supermarkets PLC appointed Andy Atkinson, previously the British retailer's group customer and marketing director, as its group commercial director, while David Lepley, who joined Morrisons from Asda Stores Ltd. nearly four years ago, was promoted to group retail director. Lepley will replace Gary Mills, who will leave the company to pursue other interests.

* Shares of Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA fell as much as 12% on Jan. 17 while Fnac Darty SA's Paris-listed stock dropped nearly 18% after the French retailers warned that public sector strikes against President Emmanuel Macron's pension reforms will impact its earnings. Mass-market retail group Casino slashed its retail trading profit growth outlook in France for fiscal 2019 to 5% from a prior forecast of 10% as transport strikes in main cities "heavily affected" the market. Meanwhile, consumer electronics retailer Fnac Darty said it expects a loss of about €70 million in revenue in December 2019 due to the social movements.

HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL

* Signet Jewelers Ltd. raised its fiscal 2020 non-GAAP diluted EPS forecast to a range of $3.61 to $3.69 from its prior guidance of between $3.11 and $3.29 after posting a 1.6% increase in same-store sales during the nine weeks ended Jan. 4. The jeweler also said it now expects total sales for the year to reach $6.1 billion from the previous outlook of between $6.01 billion and $6.05 billion. The company's e-commerce sales for the holiday season jumped 13.5% year over year, while sales from its brick-and-mortar outlets declined 0.2%.

CASINOS AND GAMING

* Eldorado Resorts Inc. secured approval from the Louisiana Gaming Control Board for its proposed $17.3 billion merger with Caesars Entertainment Corp. The deal, which already received regulatory approval in Missouri, is expected to be completed in the first half of 2020, subject to the receipt of all regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.

* Shares of online gaming company GVC Holdings PLC slipped as much as 3% on Jan. 17 after it posted flat growth in total net gaming revenue during the fourth quarter of 2019. This was mainly driven by an 11% drop in the company's U.K. like-for-like net gaming revenue after the country's government limited the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals to £2. For the full year, net gaming revenue climbed 2%, or 3% on a constant currency basis.

SPECIALIZED CONSUMER SERVICES

* Australian fitness studio chain F45 Training Pty. Ltd. has confidentially filed for IPO in the U.S., with a launch date expected to be in the first half of 2020, Bloomberg News reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter. Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. have reportedly been tapped to help F45 prepare for its listing. F45 co-founder Adam Gilchrist and representatives from Goldman and JPMorgan declined to comment on the matter, the news outlet said.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* Retail and food sales in the U.S. registered a slower-than-expected monthly increase in December 2019 but managed to eke out gains for the full year amid fears of a potential recession. Seasonally and calendar-adjusted U.S. retail and food services sales rose 0.3% to $529.61 billion, matching the previous month's revised growth rate, advance data from the U.S. Census Bureau showed.

* The National Retail Federation said 2019 holiday retail sales, which excludes car dealers, gas stations and restaurants, jumped 4.1% year over year to $730.2 billion, in line with the trade association's forecast of sales between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion. NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said the "strong" holiday period is a "positive indicator of what's ahead."

* Retailers in Mexico anticipate a slight slowdown in sales growth in 2020 following a stronger-than-expected performance in 2019, Reuters reported, citing trade group Asociacion Nacional de Tiendas de Autoservicio y Departamentales, or ANTAD. The trade body's chief, Vicente Yanez, reportedly said the "biggest threat is confidence, certainty [and] public policy" now that Mexico has entered its second year under leftist President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, whose policies have unsettled the private sector.

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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 rose 0.60% to 29,056.42, and the Nikkei 225 rose 0.45% to 24,041.26.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.92% to 7,679.82, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.76% to 1,168.04.

On the macro front

The housing starts report, the industrial production report, the consumer sentiment report, the JOLTS report and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count 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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