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Kraft Heinz, Mondelez fined $16M; FDA proposes graphic cigarette warning labels

TOP NEWS

* Mondelez International Inc. and The Kraft Heinz Co. will pay a $16 million penalty to settle allegations that they manipulated wheat prices in their favor earlier this decade, the CFTC said. The allegations concern wheat prices in mid-2011, when the food companies allegedly attempted to reduce the spread between front-month wheat contracts and options for delivery in December 2011.

* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed a rule that would require graphic warnings that depict the negative consequences of smoking to adorn cigarette packages and advertisements. These warnings would "represent the most significant change to cigarette labels in more than 35 years," the FDA said in a press release.

FOOD RETAIL & DISTRIBUTION

* Walmart Inc.'s U.K. arm Asda Stores Ltd. posted 0.5% like-for-like sales growth, excluding petrol, in the second quarter ended June 30. Net sales increased 1.3%, benefiting from the late Easter holiday during the period.

* Target Australia Pty. Ltd. plans to remove 80 corporate positions from its head office as part of its strategy to reposition itself as an "upmarket" retailer, The Australian reported, citing Managing Director Ian Bailey. The affected staff will be redeployed to other parts of the department store chain or at its parent Wesfarmers Ltd., the report said.

* Walmart Canada Corp. and Maplebear Inc., doing business as Instacart, have expanded their one-hour grocery delivery partnership nationwide, following a 17-store pilot conducted in the Greater Toronto area and Winnipeg that began in September 2018.

* Chinese online retailer JD.com Inc.'s platform JD Worldwide has expanded its partnership with New Zealand-based The a2 Milk Co. Ltd. to increase the dairy company's product offering across the Chinese market through both online and offline marketing channels.

* Russian grocer X5 Retail Group NV is focusing on its "digital transformation" amid increasing competition from online retailers and changing consumer preferences for convenience food, Reuters reported, citing CEO Igor Shekhterman. As part of its plan, it will continue to expand the product range available on its online platform, and the company opened its own ready-to-eat food production facility this year.

* Swedish grocer ICA Gruppen AB said its second-quarter EPS came in at 2.56 Swedish kronor, down from 4.62 kronor in the year-ago period. Consolidated net sales increased 4.3% year over year to 30.53 billion kronor.

BEVERAGES

* 7-Eleven Inc., the U.S. unit of Seven & i Holdings Co. Ltd., has launched its 7-Select Replenish sports drink, which has no artificial sweeteners or high-fructose corn syrup.

* Dutch beverage producer Refresco Group NV posted an adjusted net profit of €11 million in the second quarter, down from €15 million in the year-ago quarter.

PACKAGED FOODS

* Brazilian meat packer JBS SA is mulling acquisitions in geographies it is already present in to maintain synergies with its existing businesses, CEO Gilberto Tomazoni said during a second-quarter earnings conference call. JBS said net revenue for the three months ended June 30 increased 12.5% year over year to 50.84 billion Brazilian reais. Tomazoni added that organic growth is no longer a priority for the company due to its "very solid" financial situation.

* The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service announced that meat processor Tyson Foods Inc. issued a recall for about 39,078 pounds of its Weaver brand frozen chicken patty product over contamination concerns due to the presence of extraneous materials.

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The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng rose 0.94% to 25,734.22, and the Nikkei 225 inched up 0.06% to 20,418.81.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.65% to 7,112.80, and the Euronext 100 was up 1.20% to 1,029.76.

On the macro front

The housing starts report, the quarterly services report, the consumer sentiment report and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count 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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