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Nissan, Renault deny alliance could end; China to increase US auto imports

TOP NEWS

* Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. issued a statement denying reports that it was planning for a possible end to its partnership with Renault SA. Renault also rebuked the report as Chairman Jean-Philippe Senard said the alliance, which also includes Mitsubishi Motors Corp., is "solid, robust, everything but dead," Reuters reported, citing Belgian newspaper L'Echo.

* China has pledged to buy nearly $80 billion of additional manufactured goods, including auto parts and vehicles, from the U.S. over the next two years as part of the terms of a new trade deal scheduled to be signed Jan. 15, Reuters reported.

CARMAKERS

* French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said he expects Renault to name its new CEO in the next few days, Reuters reported, citing an interview on France's CNews TV. Luca de Meo, who on Jan. 7 stepped down as head of Volkswagen AG's Seat brand, is seen as the likely appointment.

* Peugeot SA's Opel brand plans to cut up to 4,100 jobs by 2029, Bloomberg News reported, citing German newspaper Handelsblatt.

* At least three Chinese carmakers plan to build plants in Mexico or expand their current operations there, Reuters reported, citing the Mexican ambassador to China. Jose Luis Bernal said Chongqing Changan Automobile Co. Ltd. and BYD Co. Ltd. were eyeing production facilities in Mexico, while Anhui Jianghuai Automobile Group Corp. Ltd. may expand its site in the country.

* Carlos Ghosn is taking Renault to court in an attempt to obtain a €250,000 pension payment, the Financial Times reported. The report said Ghosn filed a suit in France's labor court prior to his escape from Japan.

* Greg Kelly, the former Nissan executive who was arrested in Japan alongside Carlos Ghosn for alleged financial misconduct, said he does not believe he will get a fair trial in the absence of the "main witness" Ghosn, The Wall Street Journal reported. A date for Kelly's trial has not been set.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

* Shares of Tesla Inc. closed Jan. 13 at $524.86, up nearly 10%, after Oppenheimer raised its price target to $612 per share from $385. Oppenheimer analyst Colin Rusch said the 12- to 18-month price target was raised because Tesla "has reached critical scale sufficient to support sustainable positive [free cash flow]."

POLICY, REGULATION AND SAFETY

* German prosecutors charged six Volkswagen executives with fraud relating to the dieselgate scandal, the Financial Times reported. Public prosecutors in Braunschweig reportedly found that six unnamed Volkswagen staff deliberately mislead authorities and customers, and that three of the accused "knowingly and willingly participated in the development, refinement and improvement of manipulation software."

AUTOMOTIVE RETAIL

* Volkswagen's global deliveries grew 1.3% year over year in 2019 to 10,974,600 vehicles. The company said it expanded its market share in all regions.

* Bayerische Motoren Werke AG's motorcycles and scooters division sold 175,162 units worldwide in 2019, a 5.8% year-over-year increase.

* Volkswagen's Skoda brand delivered 1.24 million vehicles in 2019, a 0.9% year-over-year decline, as a 17.3% drop in China offset growth in most other major markets.

* Toyota Motor Corp. sold 1,089,422 vehicles in Europe in 2019, up 5.2% from the previous year. Hybrid electric vehicles accounted for 52% of total deliveries.

* Chinese carmaker SAIC Motor Corporation Ltd. said its 2019 net profit attributable to shareholders is likely to fall 28.9% to about 25.6 billion Chinese yuan, Gasgoo reported, citing a company announcement. Full-year sales fell 11.54% to 6,237,950 units, the report added.

* Car sales in Russia are expected to decline 2.1% year-over-year in 2020 to 1.72 million units from 1.76 million units in 2019, Reuters reported, citing the Association of European Businesses.

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The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng decreased 0.24% to 28,885.14, while the Nikkei 225 rose 0.73% to 24,025.17.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.23% to 7,600.13, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.14% to 1,154.97.

On the macro front

The NFIB Small Business Optimism Index, CPI and the Redbook 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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