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Walmart files 'drone assistant' patent; Nike expects fiscal Q4 revenue growth

TOP NEWS

* Walmart Inc. applied for patents for an aerial drone with sensors, a mobile electronic device to operate the drone and a computing device that can communicate with the two systems. According to the filing with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the "drone assistance" device that the big-box retailer is developing will be able to travel to a user's location to help with verifying prices and navigating to a specified object.

* Nike Inc. expects revenue growth to continue in its fiscal fourth quarter ending May 31 as its international markets expand and negative North American trends begin to reverse, CFO Andrew Campion said during a call to discuss third-quarter results. For the quarter ended Feb. 28, the activewear company posted a net loss of $921 million, a drop from $1.14 billion a year ago, which Nike attributed to $2 billion in additional tax expenses related to U.S. federal tax reform. In a separate filing, Nike announced that it bought consumer and data analytics company Zodiac, which is based in New York City and Philadelphia, for an undisclosed sum.

TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS

* Billionaire William Ackman's Pershing Square Capital Management LP walked away with about $100 million after the firm sold its stake in Nike Inc. following a 32% rise in the shoe giant's share price, The Wall Street Journal reported. According to a previous report , the hedge fund company, run by famous activist investor Bill Ackman, has been buying Nike's shares since October 2017.

* French high-fashion house Jeanne Lanvin SAS, which sold a controlling stake to Chinese conglomerate Fosun International Ltd. in February, appointed Fosun Fashion Group President Joann Cheng interim CEO, effective immediately, Women's Wear Daily reported. Lanvin's creative director Olivier Lapidus will leave the company, while general manager Nicolas Druz will join Fosun Fashion Group as managing director to support its European expansion, the report added.

MULTILINE RETAIL

* Target Corp.'s sales may increase by $600 million as its "overlap" with closing Toys R Us Inc. stores positions the general merchandiser "to take a fair share" of the market the retailer previously held, MarketWatch reported, citing a Credit Suisse report. Studies reportedly showed that 90% of Toys R Us' locations and 96% of Babies R Us' outlets are within 5 miles of a Target store, allowing it to capture sales, although the firm's analysts led by Seth Sigman noted that the company has "plenty of competition."

E-COMMERCE

* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s listing in mainland China can come as soon as mid-2018 since new rules on China depositary receipts may be introduced by April-end, Reuters reported, citing a report from Thomson Reuters' International Financing Review. The e-commerce giant reportedly has been considering a Chinese stock exchange listing since 2014. CEO Jack Ma previously said Alibaba will "seriously consider" listing in Hong Kong.

HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL PRODUCTS

* Shareholders of Unilever NV, which recently announced the end of its Anglo-Dutch status, expressed concerns after the consumer goods giant failed to "engage" U.K investors over the potential outcome of unifying its corporate headquarters in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, the Financial Times reported. Asset manager Columbia Threadneedle Investments, one of Unilever's top investors, reportedly said the company needs to "do more" to persuade U.K shareholders on the benefits of its plan, while an unnamed investor said it might vote against the move.

* Hengan International Group Co. Ltd. will sell tampon products in China, tapping into a market dominated by international brands as it bets on a change in hygiene products trend driven by exposure to western culture, the Nikkei Asian Review reported. CEO Hui Lin Chit reportedly said the sanitary napkin manufacturer has been preparing its entry in the tampons sector since 2017 as Hengan positions itself as a "feminine care products provider," but did not give a timeline for the rollout.

FOOD AND STAPLES RETAILING

* More than a dozen members of Whole Foods Market Inc.'s executive and senior management team have left the company since Amazon.com Inc. acquired it in June 2017, The Wall Street Journal reported. Whole Foods veterans who left the grocer despite being asked to stay were not comfortable reporting to younger Amazon executives, while some said that they were removed following the deal's announcement, the report added.

HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL

* MGA Entertainment Inc. CEO Isaac Larian together with other investors pledged $200 million to save more than half of the 735 Toys R Us Inc. stores slated to be closed as part of the company's bankruptcy proceedings, The Associated Press reported. The group that includes the Bratz doll-maker seeks to crowdfund four times that amount through a GoFundMe page. Meanwhile, Charles Lazarus, the founder of the troubled toy retailer, passed away at the age of 94 after a period of deteriorating health.

HOTELS, CASINOS AND GAMING

* Wynn Resorts Ltd. founder and former CEO Steve Wynn, who resigned in February following sexual misconduct allegations, sold his remaining stake in the Las Vegas-based hotel and casino operator, shortly after reducing his 11.78% holding to 7.8%. Two of Wynn Resorts' long-term institutional investors agreed to acquire Wynn's remaining 8 million shares at a price of $175 per share, effectively ending his ownership in the company. Macau casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd. also agreed to purchase 5.3 million primary shares of Wynn Resorts for $175 per share, for a total consideration of $927.5 million.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* The specter of a trade war between the U.S. and China intensified as President Donald Trump signed a memorandum at a White House ceremony imposing up to $60 billion in annual tariffs on Chinese imports and China threatened to retaliate. Two senior White House officials earlier in the day told reporters that the administration would recommend tariffs of up to $50 billion annually, but Trump said during the memorandum signing that they "could be" up to $60 billion. Meanwhile, the administration gave the European Union, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and South Korea temporary exemptions from Trump's 25% tariff on U.S. steel imports and 10% tariff on aluminum imports, which are set to take effect March 23.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng decreased 2.45% to 30,309.29, and the Nikkei 225 declined 4.51% to 20,617.86.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.56% to 6,913.57, and the Euronext 100 was down 1.37% to 995.91.

On the macro front

The durable goods orders report, the new home sales report and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count report are due out today.

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