* Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. affiliate Ant Financial Services Group named Simon Hu as CEO to succeed Eric Jing, who will remain as executive chairman, Bloomberg News reported, citing a company statement and internal memo. Ant also said its chief technology officer, Cheng Li, will move to Alibaba to take on the same role. Cheng reportedly will replace Jeff Zhang, who will stay as chairman of Alibaba's technology committee.
* Amazon.com Inc. is looking to establish its first warehouse in Ireland to fulfill orders that are shipped from the U.K. as the Brexit deadline of Jan. 31, 2020, nears, Bloomberg News reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Sources reportedly said the e-commerce company is scouting sites that span about 100,000 square feet, and it has considered options around Dublin. An Amazon spokesman said the company does not comment on speculation, the report added.
TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS
* Bonmarché Holdings PLC CEO Helen Connolly stepped down from the struggling British retailer Dec. 9, Drapers reported.
* Swiss antitrust watchdog Comco issued a provisional ban preventing The Swatch Group AG from supplying watch movements to its rivals in 2020, Bloomberg News reported, citing a statement from the regulator. Comco reportedly said the ban will apply until it reaches a decision on new rules, which is expected to happen around the summer of 2020. "Comco is interfering in economic policy and is restructuring the entire Swiss watchmaking industry. In doing so, it is exceeding and violating its authority," Swatch reportedly said in a statement.
* Amazon will offer at least one free return option for customers during the holiday season. It is also rolling out a label-free and box-free return option for eligible items at more than 5,800 locations in a bid to cut the amount of packaging used for returns.
* The EU Court of Justice ruled that Airbnb Inc. cannot be regulated like an online real estate agency in France, Bloomberg News reported, citing the court decision. The ruling addresses a French court's concern about how to treat Airbnb under France's strict real estate rules.
HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL PRODUCTS
* German cosmetics and perfume retailer Douglas GmbH has laid the foundation for a possible IPO, Reuters reported, citing CEO Tina Mueller. Mueller reportedly said the final decision rests with its private equity owner CVC Capital Partners, which acquired the company in 2015.
HYPERMARKETS AND SUPERCENTERS
* Walmart Inc. is pushing for the "swift congressional passage" of the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement. Walmart operates more than 2,800 stores in Mexico and Canada and another 5,000 locations in the U.S. "New commitments on digital trade and trade facilitation will enable us to take advantage of an integrated e-commerce marketplace in North America," the company said.
HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL
* Chinese electronics retailer Suning.com Co. Ltd. will invest at least $5.7 billion in new technologies and logistics infrastructure in 2020 in a bid to open more than 10,000 new stores and create 8,000 jobs.
* U.K. carpet retailer Carpetright PLC shareholders approved the £15 million takeover offer from Meditor Holdings Ltd. The home improvement retailer said more than 75% of its shareholders voted in favor of the deal.
* U.K. retailer WH Smith PLC received shareholder approval for its acquisition of U.S.-based Marshall Retail Group LLC for $400 million.
LEISURE PRODUCTS AND FACILITIES
* Mattel Inc. aims to use 100% recycled, recyclable or bio-based plastic materials in its products and packaging by 2030. It also plans to roll out its first sustainably sourced product, the Fisher-Price Rock-a-Stack, in the first half of 2020.
HOTELS, RESORTS AND CRUISE LINES
* Hyatt Hotels Corp. sold the 615-room Grand Hyatt Seoul hotel for roughly $481 million. Hyatt, which signed a 75-year management contract for the hotel to keep the Grand Hyatt brand, said the deal is part of its efforts to raise $1.5 billion in gross proceeds from the sales of real estate assets by March 2022.
* SoftBank Group Corp.-backed Oyo Hotels and Homes will lay off about 2,000 workers across its Indian operations by the end of January 2020 in a bid to cut costs on manpower and make some of its processes more tech-enabled, The Economic Times (India) reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Sources reportedly said the job cuts will primarily be in the sales, supply and operations divisions.
* The Financial Reporting Council extended the scope of its investigation into EY's audit of Thomas Cook Group PLC's accounts to include its fiscal 2017, the Financial Times reported. The regulator was initially investigating Thomas Cook's accounts for the year ended Sept. 20, 2018. The travel company went into liquidation in September.
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The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a mixed opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng decreased by 0.30% to 27,800.49, while the Nikkei 225 was down 0.29% to 23,864.85.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 increased by 0.21% to 7,558.69, and the Euronext 100 increased by 0.01% to 1,140.42.
On the macro front
The jobless claims report, the Philadelphia Fed business outlook survey report, the current account report, the existing homes sales report, the leading indicators report, EIA natural gas 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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