* Amazon.com Inc. threatened to fire employees, including principal user-experience designer Maren Costa, for speaking out against its environmental policies, The Washington Post reported, citing a company email to Costa. In a statement posted on Twitter, the group Amazon Employees for Climate Justice said the e-commerce company in September 2019 updated its policy to require workers to seek approval before speaking about Amazon in a public forum, a move that came after the AECJ organized a climate walkout. However, Amazon spokeswoman Jaci Anderson reportedly told the newspaper that the company's external communications policy "is not new and we believe is similar to other large companies."
* Retail sales in Hong Kong slid 23.6% year over year in November to HK$30 billion, versus a revised 24.4% decline in October, as retail sales volume decreased 25.4%, according to the government's Census and Statistics Department. A spokesman said sales continued to fall sharply in November due to local social incidents turning "extremely violent," disrupting tourism- and consumption-related activities.
TEXTILES, APPAREL AND LUXURY GOODS
* LVMH Moët Hennessy - Louis Vuitton SE's Louis Vuitton brand will close its store at the Times Square mall in Hong Kong due to protests in the country, the South China Morning Post reported, citing sources familiar with the matter. Sources reportedly said the move comes after mall owner Wharf Real Estate Investment Co. Ltd. refused a request to lower the rent on its second-floor space. Representatives from Louis Vuitton and Wharf Reic reportedly declined to comment on the matter.
* Nashville, Tenn.-based apparel retailer Genesco Inc. completed its purchase of the U.S. assets of New York-based Togast LLC. Genesco disclosed its acquisition of Togast's assets Dec. 18, 2019. At the time, Genesco Brands LLC, Genesco's shoe store subsidiary, agreed to buy all the assets of Togast LLC, Togast Direct LLC, TGB Design LLC and Quanzhou TGB Footwear Co. Ltd. for $67.7 million.
* Next PLC updated its EPS guidance for fiscal 2019-2020 to £4.59 from £4.58 and expects group pretax profit to come in at £727 million instead of £725 million, reflecting an anticipated 3.9% growth in full-price sales. The department store operator reported that total full-price sales for the period between Oct. 27, 2019, and Dec. 28, 2019, increased by 5.2%. For the year ending January 2021, Next expects a growth of 3% in full price, 1% in profit and 3.5% in EPS.
* Marks & Spencer Group PLC named David Surdeau as interim CFO, effective Jan. 7, reporting directly to CEO Steve Rowe. Surdeau previously was a director for Tesco PLC and British American Tobacco PLC.
* Marks & Spencer Group PLC will launch a sportswear collection called Goodmove on Jan. 3, in a bid to tap into the growing market for athleisure, The Guardian reported. "Activewear has become a staple in today's wardrobe — not simply because we work out more but because the nation is embracing a more casual and flexible way of dressing," M&S womenswear director Jill Stanton reportedly said.
* Chinese companies including Trip.com Group Ltd. and NetEase Inc. are in talks for secondary listings in Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Sources reportedly said Hong Kong bourse officials have held follow-up discussions with the two U.S.-listed technology firms, but the talks are preliminary and subject to change. Ctrip and the Hong Kong Stock Exchange declined to comment on the matter, the report said, while a NetEase representative had no comment.
HOUSEHOLD AND PERSONAL PRODUCTS
* Avon Products Inc. CEO Jan Zijderveld will leave the company, effective upon the closing of Avon's sale to Natura Cosméticos SA on Jan. 3. Zijderveld will hand over leadership to Natura &Co Executive Chairman Roberto Marques.
HOUSEHOLD DURABLES AND SPECIALTY RETAIL
* U.S. home improvement chain Lowe's Companies Inc. is seeking up to 53,000 additional full-time, part-time and seasonal staff in preparation for a busy spring season. The company, which described the season as "the busiest" for home improvement projects, will hire cashiers, lawn and garden associates, stockers and loaders across more than 1,700 U.S. Lowe's stores.
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a lower opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng declined 0.32% to 28,451.50.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.46% to 7,569.23, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.66% to 1,150.59.
On the macro front
The motor vehicles sales report, the ISG Manufacturing Index, the construction spending report, the EIA Natural Gas 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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