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* Amazon Key, Inc.'s keyless delivery program, extended its service to include a slew of options, such as deliveries to businesses and an in-garage delivery option for Prime subscription members. The Key for Garage service will use Canadian engineering firm Chamberlain Group's myQ-connected garage door opener to enable garage deliveries for Amazon Prime customers, starting in the second quarter of 2019. Amazon also launched a smart fob, called Key for Business, that allows building owners and managers to give controlled access to Amazon's delivery personnel, while monitoring driver entries and managing delivery hours.

* Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. acquired Berlin-based streaming analytics startup Data Artisans GmbH in a €90 million deal. Alibaba said in a statement that it is "deepening its partnership" with Data Artisans, having worked with the company on its open source stream processing framework, Apache Flink, since 2016. In a separate statement, Data Artisans said it was excited to be "joining forces" with the Chinese company.


* Brunello Cucinelli SpA expects further growth in 2019 after reporting that net revenue for fiscal 2018 rose 8.1% year over year, or 10.7% at constant exchange rates, to €553 million, helped by sales increases across all regions.

* Chanel SA will take a stake in Kenissi, a Geneva-based maker of watch parts, Women's Wear Daily reported, citing a company statement. Chanel, which said the investment fits its strategy of "seeking to offer high-quality casing and movements to its products," reportedly did not disclose the financial details of the investment. The move comes after the French luxury firm invested in watchmaker Montres Journe SA in September 2018.


* Inc. has surpassed Microsoft Corp. as the largest company by market value, CNBC reported. Amazon closed trading Jan. 7 with a market value of about $797 billion, versus Microsoft with $783 billion. Alphabet Inc. ended trading with a market value of $748 billion, higher than Apple Inc., which closed at about $702 billion, the report added.

* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.-owned Zhejiang Taobao Network Co. Ltd. has removed Alibaba founder Jack Ma from its list of major shareholders, Caixin Global reported, citing newly released public records. Taobao changed the names of its major shareholders to a company evenly owned by five people in Alibaba's management team. However, Alibaba reportedly clarified that Ma, who is expected to retire from the Chinese company, "has never transferred or exited as a Taobao shareholder, nor is he planning to do so."

* E-commerce giant Inc. launched two smart delivery stations in the cities of Changsha and Hohhot in China with robots that can hold up to 30 parcels and autonomously deliver them within a 5-kilometer radius. The self-driving vehicles can plan routes and follow traffic lights. At full capacity, the delivery stations — divided equally between couriers and robots — can deliver up to 2,000 packages a day.


* Grocery operator The Kroger Co. and Microsoft Corp. will pilot connected stores powered by the tech giant's Azure cloud platform. Two pilot stores in Ohio and Washington will offer a new customer experience using what the company called Retail as a Service, or RaaS. Following the pilot, Kroger and Microsoft will sell their RaaS software bundle as an "enablement software built by a retailer for retailers."

* Australia's workplace tribunal dismissed objections by a labor union over an agreement that Woolworths Group Ltd. reached with workers that will hike their base pay 6% above the national award rate, The Sydney Morning Herald reported. The Fair Work Commission rejected Retail and Fast Food Workers' Union's challenge after it found that the retailer's employees were "better off" with their negotiated compensation, which included benefits such as higher pay and longer breaks. A Woolworths spokesman reportedly said the company was "look[ing] forward to delivering the improved conditions and benefits our team have voted for."


* Dunelm Group PLC posted total group revenue of £303.6 million for the second quarter of 2019, a 2% increase from the year-ago period and reflecting the closure of its Worldstores and Kiddicare websites. Total like-for-like sales rose 9% year over year to £282.5 million. The homeware retailer added that it expects half-year 2019 profit before tax to be approximately £70 million after the main licensee of its Fogarty brand went into administration during the quarter ended Dec. 29.

* Music store operator HMV Digital China Group Ltd. is expected to hold Hong Kong's biggest liquidation sale in a decade, in order to sell its outstanding stock at a discounted price, the South China Morning Post reported, citing liquidation experts. The company's U.K.-based unit, HMV Group PLC, went into administration for the second time in December 2018. HMV reportedly has closed all seven of its stores in Hong Kong, dismissing about 80 staff.

* LG Electronics Inc. posted tentative consolidated operating profit of 75.3 billion Korean won for the fourth quarter of 2018, while revenue for the period came in at nearly 15.8 trillion won. The consumer electronics company said its total sales for full-year 2018 is about 61.3 trillion won, with an operating profit of 2.7 trillion won, up 9.5% year over year.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng was up 0.15% to 25,875.449. The Nikkei 225 rose 0.82% to 20,204.04.

In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 increased 1.11% to 6,886.30, and the Euronext 100 rose 1.25% to 931.11.

On the macro front

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, the International Trade report, the Redbook report and the JOLTS 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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