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Arizona bans Uber's self-driving cars; GM Korea warns of bankruptcy

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Arizona bans Uber's self-driving cars; GM Korea warns of bankruptcy

TOP NEWS

* Arizona's governor suspended Uber Technologies Inc.'s license to test and run autonomous vehicles in the state, calling the ride-hailing service provider's March 18 fatal self-driving car accident "an unquestionable failure to comply" with safety protocols. Uber wrote on Twitter that it will discuss with the governor's office ways to resolve any concerns. Meanwhile, Uber deactivated Aptiv PLC's collision-avoidance technology in the Volvo SUV involved in the fatal accident to replace it with its own technology, Bloomberg reported.

* General Motors Co.'s South Korean unit GM Korea would file for bankruptcy unless it secures $600 million in operating funds, which would require its labor union to agree to a wage deal by March-end, Reuters reported. GM Korea, under due diligence in the country, reportedly needs the money to present a turnaround plan by April 20. A government official, on condition of anonymity, reportedly told Reuters that the company seems to be "using threats to ramp up pressure on the union to make concessions."

CAR MAKERS

* Mitsubishi Motors North America Inc., a unit of Japan's Mitsubishi Motors Corp., said Executive Vice President and COO Don Swearingen will retire June 1. Swearingen, who has held the position since 2013, will help during the transition period between the company's incoming President and CEO Fred Diaz and outgoing Ryujiro Kobashi.

ELECTRIC AND AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

* 4R Energy Corp., the joint venture between Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo Corp., will start selling refurbished replacement lithium-ion batteries for Nissan's first-generation Leaf model, Reuters reported. 4R's plant in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, can process 2,250 battery modules, whose energy capacities have dipped below 80%, in a year, its CEO Eiji Makino reportedly said. Priced at ¥300,000 each, "a few hundred" units will be built annually in initial stages.

REGULATIONS AND SAFETY

* U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer are in talks with China to reduce the country's imported car duties, allow financial services firms in China to be majority foreign-owned and to buy more semiconductors made in the U.S., Reuters reported, citing a person familiar with the deliberations. The talks, reportedly confirmed by White House trade adviser Peter Navarro to CNBC, come as China filed two reports with the World Trade Organization seeking compensation for potential losses due to the proposed U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

* Hyundai Motor Co.'s labor union said the new U.S.-South Korea trade deal is "humiliating" and a move to "preemptively block Korean pickup trucks," Reuters reported. The union said the U.S. pickup truck industry is the "future bread and butter of the South Korean auto industry" following Hyundai's forecast in 2017 to launch a pickup truck in the U.S., Reuters reported. Under the deal, South Korea will be exempted from the 25% tariff on steel but agreed to push the deadline for lifting tariffs on Korean pickups to 2041 from 2021.

* Several owners of Volkswagen AG's Audi, Seat, Skoda and its namesake cars are petitioning the London High Court to seek compensation for the company's 2015 emissions scandal, the Belfast Telegraph reported. The company previously paid car owners in the U.S., but there reportedly have been no payouts in the U.K. Volkswagen said the lawsuit, due to begin March 27, is "unfounded" and that it will defend against it "robustly," the newspaper added.

AUTO PARTS AND EQUIPMENT

* In a bid to secure U.K. government backing to its bid for British engineering firm GKN PLC, turnaround firm Melrose Industries PLC committed to base the merged entity's headquarters in the country, to list Melrose shares on the London Stock Exchange and to not have a majority of directors based outside the U.K. The undertakings, valid for five years, also include an assurance that GKN Aerospace and GKN Driveline businesses will retain the same rights as of March 26. Melrose was responding to the U.K. Secretary of State for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy Greg Clark's letter seeking binding commitments from Melrose over its GKN bid.

AUTOMOTIVE RETAIL

* A Bayerische Motoren Werke AG dealership in Nashville, Tenn., will pilot a car subscription program called Access by BMW from April 2, Bloomberg News reported, citing a person familiar with the German automaker's plans. The initiative reportedly enables customers to switch car models as often as they want for a monthly subscription.

TRUCKS AND MOTORCYCLES

* Ryder System Inc. said it launched a new asset-sharing online platform to offer businesses the opportunity to list and rent underutilized commercial vehicles within a network of trusted peers. According to Ryder telematics data, nearly 25% of the roughly 8 million commercial vehicles in the U.S. regularly sit idle for more than one day a week, excluding weekends.

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng rose 0.79% to 30,790.83, while the Nikkei 225 climbed 2.65% to 21,317.32.

In Europe around midday, the FTSE 100 gained 1.93% to 7,021.46 and the Euronext 100 rose 1.33% to 1,004.44.

On the macro front

The Redbook, the S&P Corelogic Case-Shiller HPI, the consumer confidence report, the Richmond Fed Manufacturing Index and the State Street Investor Confidence Index are due out today.

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