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Japan Tobacco domestic sales jump in September; US FDA expands e-cigarette probe

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Japan Tobacco domestic sales jump in September; US FDA expands e-cigarette probe

TOP NEWS

* Japan Tobacco Inc. reported a 24.8% year-over-year increase in domestic sales for September, breaking a streak of revenue declines since January. Sales for the month came in at ¥56.2 billion from ¥45 billion in the same period a year ago. The tobacco company sold 9.4 billion cigarettes, up from 7.5 billion in September 2017. Japan Tobacco sold 64.2 billion cigarettes in the country for the first nine months of the year, an 8.7% slide from 70.3 billion cigarettes in the comparable year-ago period.

* The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it would pull e-cigarettes from shelves if it finds the devices are being marketed outside of existing law, continuing the agency's ongoing crackdown on the devices in an effort to curb use by minors. The agency sent letters to 21 e-cigarette companies — including subsidiaries of tobacco giants British American Tobacco PLC, Japan Tobacco Inc. and Imperial Brands PLC — asking for more information and warning them that it had received complaints that products were being marketed outside of the FDA's rules.

FOOD RETAIL & DISTRIBUTION

* French retail group Casino Guichard-Perrachon SA will take control of 12 supermarkets and hypermarkets operated by the Quattrucci family in France's Oise department and Ile-de-France region. According to the Casino group, the 12 stores generated more than €300 million in sales in 2017. The retail group added that it will supply the stores starting Jan. 1, 2019.

* Wesfarmers Ltd.'s Coles unit posted first-quarter 2019 total sales of A$9.84 billion, up 5% year over year from A$9.37 billion a year earlier, led by a 5.8% year-over-year growth in sales from its supermarkets segment. For the 13 weeks ended Sept. 23, the Australian retailer reported that supermarket sales reached A$7.66 billion, higher than the A$7.24 billion recorded in the first quarter of 2017. Sales for Coles' liquor division grew 2.1% to A$744 million from A$729 million in the year-ago quarter, while convenience store sales climbed 2.5% year over year to A$1.44 billion from A$1.4 billion a year earlier.

* China's Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has appointed Wang Lei to head its new local services unit comprising its food delivery service Ele.me and its restaurant review and local services platform Koubei, South China Morning Post (Hong Kong) reported, citing a company statement. Alibaba Vice President Wang resigned as CEO of Alibaba Health Information Technology Ltd. in April to become CEO of Ele.me. The report said Koubei's head, Chi Fan, will report to Wang and continue to lead the Koubei business.

BEVERAGES

* William Coors, former chairman of the board of Adolph Coors Co., died at his home at the age of 102. Coors was the grandson of Adolph Coors, who founded Adolph Coors Co. The company merged with Molson Inc. in 2005 to form Molson Coors Brewing Co. The Denver-based brewing company said Coors revolutionized the entire beverage industry by creating and developing the aluminum can in 1959.

PACKAGED FOODS

* Irish food company Greencore Group PLC said it agreed to sell its U.S. business to an affiliate of Illinois-based Hearthside Food Solutions LLC for $1.08 billion as it plans to focus on its core U.K. market. Greencore added that the net proceeds of the transaction will be used to support "a strengthened balance sheet" and that it plans to declare a special dividend of 72 pence per share. The deal is expected to close by the end of November and is subject to the approval of Greencore shareholders and U.S. competition clearance.

RESTAURANTS

* Patisserie Holdings PLC, operator of U.K.-based café chain Patisserie Valerie, said Chairman Luke Johnson offered to lend the company £20 million as it deals with an accounting scandal that saw its CFO, Chris Marsh, arrested Oct. 11. In filings to the London Stock Exchange, Patisserie Valerie said it expects to enter a £10 million three-year term loan agreement with Johnson, who will provide a further £10 million bridge loan to enable the company to fund immediate outstanding liabilities until a share placing is completed. Patisserie Valerie subsequently raised £15.7 million from institutional investors via an accelerated bookbuild. It previously said it would require an immediate cash injection of no less than £20 million to help it continue trading without the need to appoint administrators.

* Yum China Holdings Inc., a licensee of YUM! Brands Inc., unveiled a new look for Pizza Hut in a bid to connect to a younger generation of consumers. The company, which also operates KFC and Taco Bell outlets in China, launched a redesigned logo, revamped store layouts and new uniforms designed by American fashion designer Anna Sui. Yum China also opened a new Pizza Hut store in Nanjing at the end of September. The company said the store serves as a product-testing site where customers can sample new menu items before they are rolled out to other stores across China.

INDUSTRY NEWS

* The Ontario government halted the previous administration's scheduled Nov. 1 tax hike on beer of three Canadian cents per liter. Under the previous policy, beer prices have gone up Nov. 1 of each year for the last three years. The Ontario government said it will continue to review the province's approach to how beer is sold and look at ways to provide more choice and access to consumers, including expanding the sale of beer and wine to corner stores and box stores.

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The day ahead

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

In Asia, Hang Seng dropped 1.38% to 25,445.06, while the Nikkei 225 fell 1.87% to 22,271.30.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 shed 0.06% to 6,991.79, and the Euronext 100 dropped 0.38% to 985.06.

On the macro front

The retail sales report, the Empire State Manufacturing Survey and the business inventories 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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