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Report: Renault-Nissan in talks to merge; BMW, Daimler merge mobility services

TOP NEWS

* French car manufacturer Renault SA and Japan's Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. are in talks to merge into one company and trade as a single stock, Bloomberg News reported. People with knowledge of the matter told the news outlet that Carlos Ghosn, chairman of both companies, is heading the negotiations and would lead the combined company. Renault and Nissan already have an alliance that is underpinned by cross-shareholdings.

* Rival German automakers Bayerische Motoren Werke AG and Daimler AG agreed to merge their mobility services business units. The 50-50 joint venture between BMW Group and Daimler parent will focus on on-demand mobility, car-sharing services Car2Go and DriveNow, ride-hailing, parking, and charging. Meanwhile, the Mercedes-Benz parent adjusted its revenue and its earnings before interest and taxes for 2017 due to the introduction of International Financial Reporting Standards 9 and 15.

CAR MAKERS

* Toyota Motor Corp. and Suzuki Motor Corp. will mutually supply cars in India from 2019 in an attempt to widen their footprint in emerging markets. Suzuki is set to supply Toyota with its Baleno and Vitara sport utility vehicles, while Toyota will offer Suzuki its Corolla gasoline and hybrid models.

* The board of GM Korea, the embattled South Korean unit of General Motors Co., approved a decision to ask its U.S. parent to roll over 988 billion South Korean won of debt due April and cut interest rates on its loans, Reuters reported, citing a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

* A Delaware judge greenlit a class-action lawsuit by shareholders against Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk and the company's board over the electric car maker's $2.6 billion purchase of solar panel installer SolarCity in 2016, Reuters reported. There is a possibility that Musk, "as a controlling stockholder" of both Tesla and SolarCity during the deal, "controlled the Tesla board," the judge reportedly said.

ELECTRIC AND AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

* Sixteen automakers, including Ford Motor Co., General Motors, Volkswagen, BMW Group and Toyota Motor, and the states of New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey unveiled a campaign to promote electric cars. The program, called "Drive Change. Drive Electric," will focus on the Northeast states for now, according to a news release.

* A second U.S. road safety regulator launched an investigation into a fatal road accident in Mountain View, Calif., involving a Tesla car, Reuters reported. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it will join the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board in the investigation into the crash. Tesla's shares continued to fall for the second day in a row, dropping 7.67% on March 28.

* Tesla Inc.'s debut 5.3% notes due 2025, which priced at par in August 2017, again slid to new lows the morning of March 28, falling 1.5 points on the day to 87.5, according to MarketAxess. The drop follows a March 27 downgrade by ratings agency Moody's. The rating agency lowered the electric-car manufacturer’s corporate and unsecured note ratings to B3 and Caa1, respectively, from B2 and B3, citing a "significant shortfall in the production rate of the company's Model 3 electric vehicle."

* Uber Technologies Inc. settled with the daughter and husband of Elaine Herzberg, who was fatally hit by an autonomous car being tested by the ride-hailing service provider, Reuters reported, citing attorney Cristina Hesano of the law firm Bellah Perez PLLC that represented Herzberg's kin. Terms of the settlement were not disclosed, and Bellah Perez reportedly said the daughter and husband do not wish to comment further as they consider the matter to be resolved.

* Lior Ron, the head of Uber's self-driving Freight unit, is leaving the company, CNBC reported, citing a person familiar with the matter. Ron co-founded the self-driving truck company Otto that Uber bought in 2016.

* Gradient Ventures, the Google Inc. fund specializing in artificial intelligence startups, is leading a $6 million investment in Scotty Labs that is developing a technology to enable humans to control driverless cars remotely, Bloomberg News reported. Anna Patterson, the head of Alphabet Inc.-owned Google's Gradient, reportedly said Scotty Labs has an "impressive vision."

REGULATIONS AND SAFETY

* Volkswagen AG spent over $7.4 billion to buy back about 350,000 diesel vehicles through mid-February in the U.S., keeping them at 37 parking lots across the country, Reuters reported, citing a court filing. Spokeswoman Jeannine Ginivan for the company, which settled a lawsuit in February over its U.S. clean-emissions marketing campaign, reportedly said the storage arrangement is "on an interim basis."

* Volkswagen launched a diesel guarantee campaign in Germany, offering to buy back new and year-old cars with diesel engines in case of a diesel ban.

AUTOMOTIVE RETAIL

* British car plants produced 145,475 vehicles in February, down 4.4% year over year compared with 152,232 units in February 2017, as domestic demand fell for the seventh consecutive month, according to a report by trade body The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders. Vehicles produced for the U.K. fell by 17% year over year in the month to 28,336 units, compared with 34,143 units a year earlier. Production of commercial vehicles too fell 24.2% year over year in February to 6,019 vehicles.

* Used car buying portal Carvana Co. rolled out its second car vending machine in Florida, located in Tampa. The facility, Carvana's eighth across the U.S., is eight levels high and can house up to 32 vehicles.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng was up 0.24% to 30,093.38, and the Nikkei 225 rose 0.61% to 21,159.08.

In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 rose 0.40% to 7,072.99, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.39% to 1,010.74.

On the macro front

The jobless claims report, the Chicago PMI report, the consumer sentiment report, the EIA natural gas report, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply report are due out today.

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