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Costco August sales rise 12.2% YOY; Gibson Brands to exit bankruptcy in 1 month

TOP NEWS

* Warehouse club operator Costco Wholesale Corp.'s net sales in August grew 12.2% to $11 billion from $9.8 billion in the same month a year ago. During the month, comparable sales across the company's global operations edged up 9.2%. E-commerce comparable sales were up 23.8%, while comparable sales in Canada also grew 2.7%.

* Gibson Brands Inc.'s major stakeholders have reached a settlement regarding the restructuring plan of the guitar maker, which expects to exit bankruptcy in less than a month. Chairman and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz will step down from his role and become a consultant to the company when the restructuring plan is effective. Brian Fox, from turnaround specialist Alvarez and Marsal, will become chief restructuring officer and oversee Gibson's daily operations until a new CEO is appointed.

TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS

* Chanel SA, which in June released annual results for the first time in over 100 years, will close its New York headquarters, The Business of Fashion reported, citing an internal company announcement. A spokesperson for Chanel told the news agency that London is the "appropriate place" for the luxury firm as it intends to centralize its global operations and simplify its business structure.

MULTILINE RETAIL

* The Bon-Ton Stores Inc. is expected to open stores in Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, after a subsidiary of online retailer CSC Generation Inc. bought the bankrupt department store chain, USA Today reported. The subsidiary reportedly signed an agreement, which will need the Delaware bankruptcy court's approval, to buy the rights of Bon-Ton, along with its business units, and is "advanced discussions with landlords" to reopen locations. Bon-Ton, under the new owner, will focus on developing its online shopping experience.

* Galeria Kaufhof, owned by department store operator Hudson's Bay Co., and Signa Holding GmbH-held Karstadt have agreed to merge, a deal that will combine Germany's two largest department store chains, Reuters reported, citing several sources close to the deal. Under the terms of the deal, Signa will own 51% of the new business, which will be led by Stephan Fanderl, the current managing director of retail at Signa. Hudson's Bay and Signa did not immediately respond to S&P Global Market Intelligence's request for comment.

* U.K.'s House of Fraser Group Ltd. may relaunch its website as early as next week after its owner, Sports Direct, reached an agreement with warehouse operator XPO Logistics Inc., The Guardian reported. As part of the agreement, House of Fraser's Milton Keynes warehouse will close in November, resulting in a loss of about 300 jobs, while its Wellingborough warehouse will remain open at least until March 2019 but could close thereafter, putting another 300 jobs at risk.

E-COMMERCE

* A bookselling trade body in the U.K. warned parliament officials that internet retail giants should "pay a proper share of taxation" after blaming companies such as Amazon.com Inc. for "putting numerous competitors out of business," The Guardian reported. The Booksellers Association of the U.K. and Ireland added that current steps to "reform the digital economy" should be "implemented quickly" if the bookselling sector and high street are to survive.

* Ant Financial Services Group, an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., opened an unmanned apparel store in Hong Kong that uses its mobile payment platform, Alipay, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. Customers enter the store using a facial recognition system that generates a QR code, which must be scanned by a smartphone to open the doors. After selecting items, shoppers scan another QR code to make the purchase through Alipay.

FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING

* The Kroger Co. will expand its digital prescription drug safety program with education services provider EverFi Inc. to students in Georgia, Texas, Michigan, Kentucky, Tennessee and Arizona. Kroger's family of pharmacies will increase the number of classrooms for high school students and educate them on drug abuse prevention. The digital program is expected to reach more than 270 schools in the new academic year.

* Whole Foods Market Inc. employees want to unionize to push for better compensation, benefits and profit-sharing from the food retailer and its parent, Amazon.com Inc., The Wall Street Journal reported, citing an email from a group of workers. A Whole Foods spokesperson said the company offers "competitive wages and benefits" and encourages employees to voice their concerns with their managers. The news comes after Amazon, known for opposing organizing efforts in the past, called Senator Bernie Sanders' claims of poor worker conditions in its fulfillment centers "inaccurate and misleading."

HYPERMARKETS AND SUPERCENTERS

* Walmart Inc. rolled out protection plans powered by insurance provider Allstate Corp. on its mobile application, allowing users to file and track claims, transfer or cancel plans, and check items' eligibility for the program on their phones. Allstate powers all of Walmart's protection plans sold in-store and online.

* Wal-Mart de México SAB de CV's consolidated sales in August grew 7.8% year over year to 48.89 billion Mexican pesos. The Mexican subsidiary of U.S. retail giant Walmart Inc. said total sales in Mexico jumped 7.5% year over year to 40.08 billion pesos from 37.3 billion pesos in the year-ago period. In Central America, Walmex's total sales during the month climbed 9.2% year over year to 8.81 billion pesos, compared with 8.07 billion pesos in August 2017.

HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL

* Proxy advisory firm Glass Lewis & Co. LLC updated its report on American Outdoor Brands Corp., maker of Smith & Wesson brand guns, recommending that investors vote against only one director nominee instead of the initial five, Reuters reported. The development comes after American Outdoor Brands defended its directors, providing additional disclosures in a filing with the SEC. Glass Lewis reportedly maintained that votes should be withheld from director nominee Mitchell Saltz since his seat at the board of police training services provider VirTra Inc. creates a potential conflict of interest.

HOTELS, CASINOS AND GAMING

* Major hoteliers are rolling out employee safety devices, or ESDs, at their hotel properties across the U.S., as part of the hospitality industry's effort to advance employee and guest protection. Hotel companies such as Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc., Hyatt Hotels Corp., InterContinental Hotels Group PLC, Marriott International Inc. and Wyndham Hotels & Resorts also will provide improved policies, training and resources to ensure safety. The 5-Star Promise initiative expands the deployment of ESDs to all hotel employees nationwide, with broad implementation targeted by 2020, according to the American Hotel & Lodging Association.

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The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng decreased 0.01% to 26,973.47, and the Nikkei 225 declined 0.80% to 22,307.06.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.85% to 7,256.55, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.20% to 1,025.18.

On the macro front

The employment situation report, the quarterly services survey, the Treasury STRIPS 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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