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Just ahead of the holiday shopping season, Walmart is trying to make it easier for its online shoppers to return products to third-party sellers as the battle with Amazon intensifies.

Starting this fall, customers buying items from third parties on will be able to print shipping labels directly from the website and clearly see the return policies for individual items online, according to a memo sent to sellers and obtained by CNBC.

Sellers on Walmart’s marketplace will soon be able to use the company’s “‘Returns Shipping Service,’ which offers special discounted shipping rates,” the memo said. Sellers will still have the ability to to set returns windows and shipping fees. (See a full copy of the memo below.)

The announcement comes nearly a year after Amazon’s changes to its returns and refunds processes sparked outrage from third-party sellers. CNBC reported that Amazon was making it easier for consumers to send items back, but it would be at the merchant’s expense. At the time, one seller said Amazon’s new policies would “totally crush small businesses.”

Amazon has also been called out for banning shoppers — those who return too many items — from its website, sometimes without giving them a reason why.

While Walmart’s e-commerce marketplace is smaller than Amazon’s, it has been adding more and more items to its website, especially now that the retailer owns, bringing in Marc Lore in to head Walmart’s e-commerce division. Lore co-founded Jet and previously sold his start-up Quidsi to Amazon in 2010.

One major difference between the Amazon and Walmart marketplaces is that Amazon offers a “fulfilled by Amazon” option, where the company helps with shipping and returns. Walmart sellers, in turn, have been responsible for their own policies.

Things appear to be shifting, however, with Walmart telling sellers Thursday it wants to play a role in “significantly improv[ing] the return experience for both customers and … marketplace sellers.”

This could bode well for Walmart, which is increasingly the marketplace that professional sellers on Amazon are using. Some 36 percent of merchants on Amazon said that in 2018 they plan to expand their sales to Walmart, according to a survey by Feedvisor of 1,200 professional Amazon sellers this year.

Other marketplaces sellers plan to expand to in 2018

Source: Feedvisor

Walmart also said in the memo obtained by CNBC that it plans to at some point to utilize its fleet of hundreds of stores across the U.S. to make returns less of a hassle.

“We will share more information in the near future on how we are thinking about that,” the company wrote. “No other retailer has the size and scale to provide this level of convenience.”

Now working at Walmart, Lore has played a pivotal role in the company’s revamp of its website, which now includes a landing page for apparel from Hudson’s Bay-owned Lord & Taylor.

Walmart shares are up about 10 percent from a year ago, bringing the retailer’s market cap to $265.7 billion. That compares with Amazon, which has watched its stock climb about 90 percent over the same period. Amazon has a market cap of $920.1 billion.

Here is the full memo, which was sent to sellers and obtained by CNBC:

More and more, we have found that a great product return experience is a top contributor to overall customer satisfaction and repeat purchases. Our customers expect a consistent and easy experience regardless of whether an item is sold by Walmart or a marketplace seller. We also know returns can be an unwieldy process for you. We are excited to announce our plans to launch an enhanced Marketplace Returns Program this fall, which will significantly improve the return experience for both customers and you, our marketplace sellers.

What is improving for customers?
• Customers will be able to clearly see the return policy for each marketplace item on individual item pages.
• Customers will be able to print shipping labels directly from their accounts, as long as their returns are within your specified return window.
• Our customer service team will also be able to help facilitate returns in accordance with your requirements.

What is improving for sellers?
• New functionality will make it easier, faster and more efficient for you to manage returns on our platform.
• As a seller, you will continue to be able to configure the return policy for every item you sell, including the settings for restocking fees, shipping carriers, return windows and shipping fees.
• You will also have the option to use our Returns Shipping Service, which offers special discounted shipping rates.

And, this is just the first step. We have a big opportunity to use our 4,700 stores across the country to make marketplace returns even easier. We will share more information in the near future on how we are thinking about that. No other retailer has the size and scale to provide this level of convenience. We think it’ll be a game changer for you, our sellers, to be able to provide a better customer experience to our joint customers.

We look forward to working with you to launch this new program. At this point, no action on your part is required. We will have additional details to share in the coming weeks.

— CNBC’s Ari Levy contributed to this reporting.

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Bonds are flashing a huge recession signal — here’s what happened to stocks last time it happened




“Yield curve inversion won’t signal doom,” Jonathan Golub, chief U.S. equity strategist at Credit Suisse, said in a note last year. “While an inversion has [preceded] each recession over the past 50 years, the lead time is extremely inconsistent, with a recession following anywhere from 14-34 months after the curve goes upside down.”

The most recent recession, in 2008, came 24 months after the 2-year and 10-year yield curve inverted on Dec. 30 in 2005, Golub pointed out. Back then, the stock market scored an 18.4 percent gain 18 months after the inversion and 17 percent return 24 months later, the analyst said.

Stocks started to go downhill only about 30 months after the inversion in 2005 as the S&P 500 eventually wiped all the gains around mid-2007 and lost a whopping 30 percent in early 2009 as the great financial crisis raged, according to Credit Suisse.

The stock market has jumped 21 percent from its Christmas Eve low as fears of an economic downturn and a full-on trade war with China recede. However, the rally was put on hold this week as the Fed‘s policy reversal reignited the recession fears. The central bank announced no rate hikes this year versus the two rate increases that were predicted as recently as December, and it also reduced its outlook for GDP to 2.1 percent in 2019 from a 2.3 percent forecast in December.

“Our core logic behind the inversion call still holds — it’s a bet the market will begin pricing in a ‘policy error’ risk,” said Ian Lyngen, BMO’s head of U.S. rates, in a note. “Unlike when the Fed was still clinging to the hope of another hike or two in 2019, an inversion now will occur as investors worry the FOMC’s on hold stance will prevent them from cutting rates quickly enough to stave off a more severe recession.”

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Tyson recalling nearly 70,000 pounds of chicken strips after a report of metal pieces




A bag of Tyson Foods Inc. frozen chicken is arranged for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Thursday, May 5, 2016. Tyson is scheduled to release earnings figured on May 9.

Bloomberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

A bag of Tyson Foods Inc. frozen chicken is arranged for a photograph in Tiskilwa, Illinois, U.S., on Thursday, May 5, 2016. Tyson is scheduled to release earnings figured on May 9.

Tyson Foods is recalling over 69,000 pounds of its ready-to-eat chicken strips after two consumers complained of finding metal in their meals, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.

The frozen strips were produced Nov. 30, 2018, and have “best by” dates of Nov. 30, 2019. The products include the 25-ounce bags of fully cooked and frozen buffalo-style chicken strips, 25-ounce bags of fully cooked crispy chicken strips, and cases of Spare Time fully cooked, buffalo-style chicken strips. The products to be recalled have “P-7221” on the back of the packaging.

The three products were shipped to retailers nationwide, according to the FSIS, and to Michigan and Washington for institutional use.

A spokesman for Tyson did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

No adverse reactions or injuries have been reported, according to the Tyson website. Customers who have these products should either throw them away or return them to the place of purchase.

This is the second major recall for the food company this year. In January, the company recalled more than 36,000 pounds of chicken nuggets after consumers complained of the product containing rubber.

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Tiffany, Nike, Avon Products & more




Customers carry Tiffany & Co. shopping bags outside the company's flagship store in New York, March 18, 2014.

Craig Warga | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Customers carry Tiffany & Co. shopping bags outside the company’s flagship store in New York, March 18, 2014.

Check out the companies making headlines midday Friday:

Tiffany — Shares of Tiffany rose 3.2 percent after the jewelry retailer reported mixed fourth-quarter results. The retailer reported earnings of $1.67, 7 cents higher than expected, and revenues of $1.321 billion, missing estimates by $11 million. Tiffany also reported a 1 percent drop in worldwide sales, while Refinitiv had estimated 0.8 percent increase.

Citigroup, Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs — Bank shares all fell at least 2.9 percent as worries over the global economy sent Treasury yields lower. The benchmark 10-year rate fell below the 3-month yield, causing a yield-curve inversion, which often signals a recession is on the horizon.

Nike — Shares of Nike declined 6.6 percent after the sneaker maker reported weaker-than-expected sales in North America for its third-quarter. Nike also warned that its revenue growth could slow during its fourth-quarter. The company stated it was partially hurt by fewer Converse-branded merchandise.

Cintas — Shares of Cintas plunged 6.5 percent after the company reported weaker-than-expected sales for the previous quarter, while its full-year revenue outlook also disappointed investors.

Nokia — Shares of Nokia fell 6.1 percent after the network equipment maker revealed it is investigating transactions at Alcatel-Lucent, the rival it acquired in 2016, and that it alerted U.S. authorities to these possible compliance issues.

Avon Products — Shares of the beauty company rose 10 percent following a Wall Street Journal report that Avon is exploring a sale to Brazilian rival Natura. The company reportedly would acquire both the publicly traded Avon that operates worldwide and the private North American business.

Papa John’s International — The pizza maker’s stock rose more than 6 percent after announcing former basketball star Shaquille O’Neal joined its board of directors. The company also announced O’Neal is investing in nine Papa John’s restaurants in Atlanta.

Boeing — Boeing shares dropped more than 2.5 percent after an Indonesian airline canceled a $6 billion order for 49 of the company’s 737 Max jets.

—CNBC’s Jessica Bursztynsky and Nadine El-Bawab contributed to this report.

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