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9th ex-UAW exec charged in bribery case; VW July sales dip despite China growth

TOP NEWS

* A federal court charged former United Auto Workers executive Michael Grimes, who until 2018 served as administrative assistant to UAW Vice President Cindy Estrada, with money laundering and wire fraud conspiracy, The Detroit News reported. Grimes, who is the ninth person charged in an ongoing investigation, received $1.99 million in kickbacks from union vendors, according to the charges. Grimes is the first union executive linked with General Motors Co. charged under the bribery investigation that has so far surrounded executives working with Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV. GM said it is "fully cooperating" with the investigation.

* Volkswagen AG sold 886,100 vehicles worldwide in July, down 2.4% year over year as the global market continues to shrink. China, the German group's most important market, saw VW deliveries grow 1.3% year over year to 313,400 despite the general downward trend. Deliveries in Europe fell 3.6% to 393,600 on new emissions norms, while North America saw sales fall 0.9% to 80,700.

CARMAKERS

* Aston Martin Lagonda Global Holdings PLC will launch its mini SUV DBX in late 2019 and the crossover will be "the key" to reviving sales and investor trust, Automotive News Europe reported, citing CEO Andy Palmer. The luxury carmaker, which is also considering a cash raise to replenish funds, expects to sell 4,000 DBX crossovers by year-end, helping Aston Martin reach its lowered sales target of 6,300 automobiles for 2019.

* Great Wall Motor Company Ltd. parent Great Wall Holdings will build its Eastern China headquarters in the Jiading District in partnership with the local government, Gasgoo reported, citing a statement. The site will be Great Wall Motors' second-largest research and development hub and integrate its hydrogen energy, car-sharing, auto parts and connectivity businesses in a bid to develop intelligent connected vehicles.

ELECTRIC AND AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES

* Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk said the electric-car maker's vehicles will offer Spotify premium support soon. In June 2019, Musk said karaoke features could come to Tesla vehicles.

* Chinese electric-car maker BYD Co. Ltd. said it installed 1 GW of power in solar panels in Brazil, according to projections of the Brazilian Association of Photovoltaic Solar Energy and data from Aneel.

* United Parcel Service, or UPS, will invest an undisclosed amount for a minority stake in TuSimple, a self-driving truck startup, The Detroit News reported, citing UPS ventures head Todd Lewis. TuSimple, which was reportedly valued at about $1 billion in February, develops onboard systems for cargo trucks.

* Gentex Corp. said it will begin selling the latest version of its HomeLink car-to-home automation system through VOXX Electronics. The update includes an automatic-dimming mirror integrated with three programmable buttons that communicate via Bluetooth with a phone app to operate home automation devices, including garage doors and security gates. HomeLink runs on 100 million vehicles and will retail for $299.99 through VOXX.

POLICY, REGULATIONS AND SAFETY

* Ghana will offer tax breaks for up to 10 years to Volkswagen, Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. and other carmakers that set up plants in the country, The Detroit News reported, citing Trade Minister Alan Kyerematen. Volkswagen and Nissan have agreed to set up manufacturing operations in Ghana if the country offered an "official incentive plan" with Renault SA saying it would consider doing the same. Ghana will increase import duties on vehicles to 35% to encourage sales of locally produced vehicles.

AUTOMOTIVE RETAIL

* Online car-selling platform Carvana Co. rolled out a Car Vending Machine in Westminster, Los Angeles. The eight-story site holds 30 vehicles and allows customers to pick up their orders with the help of a Carvana employee.

* Australian automotive retailer Automotive Holdings Group Ltd.'s board unanimously recommended that shareholders accept rival AP Eagers Ltd.'s takeover offer and decided to sell the company's refrigerated logistics division. The sale comes after a strategic review of the division showed that it overstated 2018 revenues by A$18 million.

* U.K. automotive retailer Pendragon PLC said it sold one of its Chevrolet dealerships in California for £17.2 million, TheBusinessDesk.com reported. The latest sale marks the third California dealership Pendragon has sold in 2019.

COMMERCIAL VEHICLES

* Volkswagen's commercial vehicles arm sold 300,300 vehicles from January to July, down 0.4% year over year. Western Europe was the top-selling region at 211,300 vehicles sold, with Germany as the highest-selling country at 79,600 sold.

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The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng rose 0.94% to 25,734.22, and the Nikkei 225 inched up 0.06% to 20,418.81.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.65% to 7,112.80, and the Euronext 100 was up 1.20% to 1,029.76.

On the macro front

The housing starts report, the quarterly services report, the consumer sentiment 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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