* Starbucks Corp. said it is set to open a new Reserve Roastery in Milan that will mark the coffee giant's debut in Italy and create nearly 300 local jobs. The 2,300-square-meter store located in Milan's Piazza Cordusio is scheduled to open to customers Sept. 7. The Milan location will offer an interactive augmented reality experience, which customers can access using their smartphones and provides information about the company and its operations.
* U.S. beverage giant Coca-Cola Co. and a unit of Indian pharmaceutical company Cadila Healthcare Ltd. are considered the two strongest contenders for the sale of The Kraft Heinz Co.'s consumer portfolio in India, The Economic Times of India reported, citing people with knowledge of the matter. Coca-Cola and Cadila are reportedly in final negotiations with Kraft Heinz and are expected to submit binding bids in the coming days. The news outlet said Coca-Cola declined to comment, while Cadila did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
FOOD RETAIL & DISTRIBUTION
* Walmart Inc. said it launched a last-mile delivery pilot in Nashville, Tenn., and New Orleans as part of the expansion of its grocery delivery service. The pilot, called Spark Delivery, uses a crowd-sourced, in-house platform that enables independent drivers who work under Delivery Drivers Inc. to deliver orders that are suited to their schedules. The retailer expects to roll out Spark Delivery in a few more metro areas in 2018.
* Australian supermarket operator Woolworths Group Ltd. plans to pilot a trial of a checkout-free shopping experience called "shop and go" technology at one of its stores, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. Through its in-house WooliesX digital team, the company developed an app that allows customers to scan grocery items using their smartphones to shop and pay, without going through a checkout counter.
* Canadian convenience store operator Alimentation Couche-Tard Inc. reported net income and adjusted EPS on that beat analyst expectations, supported by fuel sales in the U.S. For the 12 weeks to July 22, the company's adjusted net earnings totaled $498 million, above both the $381 million the company reported for the year-ago quarter and the $452.5 million mean consensus estimate compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence with five analysts reporting. On a per-share basis, earnings were 88 cents. The S&P Global Market Intelligence mean consensus estimate for normalized EPS was 82 cents.
* Tyson Foods Inc.'s President, CEO and Director Thomas Hayes said pressure on chicken sales from an oversupply of red meat in the U.S. is beginning to ease. In early August, the meat processing company said prices for beef and pork fell, prompting supermarkets, food service operators and other customers to buy more beef and pork and fewer chicken products. That change, along with tariffs on meat that Tyson exports to China, was part of the company's rationale for lowering its full-year 2018 EPS guidance.
* Nestlé SA said it could close its coffee processing plant in the Philippines unless it receives tax incentives, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. The Swiss food group told the Nikkei that rising production costs and tightening sugar supplies in the domestic market have taken a toll on the company. Nestlé produces its Nescafé 3-in-1 brand coffee, milk and sugar mix locally. Beverage producers are banned from importing sugar to protect Philippine sugar farmers. In exchange for the disadvantage caused by the ban, Nestlé has sought an exemption from the country's 12% value-added tax.
* South Korea's Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs banned poultry and egg imports from Germany, in the wake of an outbreak of a highly contagious avian influenza in the European country, Yonhap News Agency reported. The ministry urged locals to refrain from visiting livestock farms located in the affected region, the report added.
* South Korea's Shinsegae Inc. denied media reports saying that the retailer plans to acquire Anheuser-Busch Inbev SA/NV-owned Oriental Brewery Co. Ltd. for 5 trillion South Korean won, Yonhap News Agency reported. The company called the reports "groundless" and did not comment further, Yonhap added.
* China reported another outbreak of African swine fever in a farm in Anhui province, making it the third case in the province and the 10th case since the outbreak was first reported a month ago, Reuters reported, citing state broadcaster China Central Television. Reuters added that the recent outbreak killed 22 hogs and infected 62 others at the farm.
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The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a mixed opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, Hang Seng fell 0.99% to 26,974.82, while the Nikkei 225 was down 0.41% to 22,487.94.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.22% to 7,367.23, and the Euronext 100 fell 0.15% to 1,031.10.
On the macro front
The ADP Employment report, the jobless claims report, the productivity and costs report, the PMI Services index, the factory orders report, the ISM's non-manufacturing index, the EIA natural gas report, the EIA petroleum status 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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