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Amazon hits $1 trillion market cap; Steinhoff ex-CEO unaware of accounting issue

TOP NEWS

* E-commerce giant Amazon.com Inc. became the second publicly traded U.S. company to reach a market capitalization of $1 trillion after tech giant Apple Inc. crossed the mark in early August. The company's stock climbed 1.9% in midday trading, hitting the $2,050.27 needed to reach the $1 trillion mark, based on its 487,741,189 shares outstanding as of July 18.

* The former CEO of Steinhoff International Holdings NV told a parliamentary inquiry in South Africa that he had no idea about the retailer's accounting problems when he left the company, according to a report by Reuters. "I must place on record that when I left Steinhoff on the 4th of December, I was not aware of any accounting irregularities they are referring to," Markus Jooste was quoted as saying. Jooste added that the collapse in Steinhoff's share price had cost him 3 billion South African rand.

TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS

* Spain-based fashion retailer Industria de Diseño Textil SA, which owns clothing companies like Zara and Bershka, will sell products from all of its brands online globally by 2020. Inditex CEO Pablo Isla told reporters at a meeting in Milan that the company will make its products available to customers worldwide, even in markets where the retailer does not have a physical presence. Isla added that all of the company's brands will adopt an integrated stock management system by 2020 in all countries where they have brick-and-mortar stores.

* U.S. President Donald Trump said Nike Inc. is sending "a terrible message" by making American football player Colin Kaepernick part of its 30th anniversary "Just Do It" campaign, Trump told The Daily Caller in an interview. The president said that while he is "on a different side of it," he thinks that the apparel retailer has "certain freedoms to do things that other people think you shouldn't do."

* Fast Retailing Co. Ltd. discount chain GU will open a next-generation store called GU Style Studio in November in Tokyo's Harajuku district that will connect online and offline shopping. GU Style Studio features the brand's complete lineup of products but also serves as a pickup station for online purchases.

MULTILINE RETAIL

* Target Corp. plans to nearly double its toy assortment to include over 2,500 new and exclusive items ahead of the holiday season, following a move by Walmart Inc. to increase its toy offerings in select stores and online. The retailer's expanded collection features products from brands including Pikmi Pops, Hatchimals and Party PopTeenies. Target also said it will unveil a digital spin on its annual gift catalog for children.

E-COMMERCE

* Amazon.com Inc., Berkshire Hathaway Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. named Jack Stoddard the COO of their joint healthcare venture, effective Sept. 4, a spokesperson for the venture confirmed to S&P Global Market Intelligence. Most recently, Stoddard was the general manager for digital health at Comcast Corp., according to his LinkedIn profile.

* JD.com Inc. is entering into a strategic agreement with Shandong Ruyi Group to provide advanced e-commerce technology to the Chinese textile giant, owner of brands such as Aquascutum and Cerruti 1881. JD said it will work with Ruyi to deploy a full suite of technology, including smart logistics, supply chain solutions, big data-enabled inventory management and membership systems.

* Facebook Inc.-owned Instagram Inc. is developing a stand-alone mobile application specifically for online shopping, The Verge reported, citing two people familiar with the matter. Sources told the news agency said the app, tentatively called IG Shopping, will allow users to browse products from the sellers that they follow and purchase items directly on the platform. A launch date reportedly could not be confirmed as development is still ongoing and may be cancelled before it is released. Instagram declined to comment, The Verge said.

* JD.com's CEO was arrested in Minnesota on Aug. 31 on suspicion of rape, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing Minneapolis police. Hennepin County Sheriff's Office had said that Liu Qiangdong, also known as Richard Liu, had been detained for alleged "criminal sexual conduct." Liu was released Sept. 1 and returned to China while police continue their investigation. However, the Chinese online retailer has said Liu had been falsely accused and that investigators had "found no misconduct." JD.com's New York-listed shares fell 6% Sept. 4.

FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING

* X5 Retail Group NV is exploring a possible joint venture with privately held PJSC Sovcombank to build a network of parcel lockers that will handle packages purchased from online stores. The proposed venture would see parcel lockers installed in X5 stores over the next five years. It would also allow the company to start testing a collaborative logistics model, the release said.

* The U.K.'s John Lewis Partnership PLC, owner of the Waitrose supermarket chain, will slash 270 back office jobs in IT, finance and store security across its 50 store locations, The Guardian reported. The news comes the same day the retailer and its supermarket unit changed their names to "John Lewis & Partners" and "Waitrose & Partners," highlighting its partnership business model with employees. The companies will change all 348 Waitrose and 50 John Lewis shop facades over a number of years and will invest in technology and employee training to enhance customer services as part of the rebranding initiative.

HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL

* Home furnishings retailer RH raised its EPS outlook for full year 2018 but slightly reduced its revenue guidance for the year after reporting second-quarter earnings that beat estimates. The California-based company updated its adjusted diluted EPS outlook for fiscal 2018 to a range of $7.35 to $7.75, up 15% from its previous guidance of $6.34 to $6.83, while lowering its revenue outlook for the year by about 2%. For the three months ended Aug. 4, RH posted adjusted diluted EPS of $2.49, up from 65 cents in the year-ago period and higher than the S&P Global Market Intelligence consensus normalized EPS estimate of $1.75.

* Steinhoff International Holdings NV agreed to sell the remaining 50% stake that it holds in discount furniture chain POCO to businessman Andreas Seifert for €270.7 million. POCO will retain its debt of approximately €140 million under the agreement, which is subject to customary closing conditions, including German and Austrian competition and merger control provisions. The transaction will bring the German litigation proceedings between the South African retailer and Seifert to an end, the release said.

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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 fell 2.61% to 27,243.85, while the Nikkei 225 fell 0.51% to 22,580.83.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 decreased 0.45% to 7,424.68, and the Euronext 100 decreased 0.84% to 1,039.01.

On the macro front

The MBA mortgage applications report, the international trade report and the Redbook 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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