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Australia hits VW with fines for emissions; CarMax misses fiscal Q3 EPS estimate

TOP NEWS

* An Australian federal court ordered Volkswagen AG and its subsidiary Audi AG to pay a record A$125 million in penalties for failing to disclose its diesel emissions manipulation software in more than 57,000 vehicles while seeking approval to supply and import the vehicles. Separately, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission initiated civil penalty proceedings in a federal court against Volkswagen Financial Services Australia Pty Ltd. for allegedly not making appropriate checks before handing out 49,380 loans to consumers.

* Virginia-based used-car retailer CarMax Inc. reported fiscal third-quarter diluted EPS of $1.04, down 4.6% from $1.09 in the year-ago quarter and missing the S&P Global Market Intelligence GAAP EPS mean consensus estimate of $1.16. For the three-month period, net earnings declined to 9% to $173.2 million. CEO Bill Nash attributed the decline to a "significantly higher stock-based compensation expense" and planned expenses related to advertising.

CARMAKERS

* Dongfeng Motor Group Co. Ltd. is extending its joint venture with French partner Peugeot SA despite reports of the Chinese company lowering its stake in the French automaker, Reuters reported, citing a company statement. Dongfeng reportedly said that under the deal, the joint entity could produce PSA's new brands in China and leverage new technologies and intellectual properties.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

* Registrations of Tesla Inc. vehicles in China rose to 5,597 during November compared with 393 in the same month a year ago, Bloomberg News reported, citing data from state-owned China Automotive Information Net. New energy vehicle sales in China have fallen for five months straight through November.

* Hyundai Motor Co. and its affiliate, Kia Motors Corp., will purchase electric-vehicle batteries from SK Innovation Co. Ltd. for the next four to five years in a deal worth 10 trillion won, Reuters reported, citing South Korean Maeil Business Newspaper, which in turn cited industry sources.

MOBILITY SERVICES

* A regional court in Frankfurt ruled that Uber Technologies Inc. cannot submit ride-hail requests on its app to car-hire companies because it does not own a car-hire license itself, The Wall Street Journal reported. The ride-hailing company, which has been banned in Germany since 2015, was asked to suspend its services to car-hire companies with immediate effect. An Uber spokesman told the Journal that the company will evaluate the court's order and determine its next steps to continue services in Germany.

* GrabTaxi Holdings Pte. Ltd. will repay 14.1 million pesos to its customers in the Philippines after the Philippines Competition Commission allegedly accused the taxi operator of overcharging, the Nikkei Asian Review reported, citing local media reports. The competition commission also reportedly asked the Singapore-based company to pay an additional fine of 2 million pesos due to driver-initiated ride cancellations in 2019. Grab reportedly said in a statement that it would disburse the penalty to passengers who used its services between May 11 and Aug. 10.

POLICY, REGULATION AND SAFETY

* General Motors Co. recalled 814,366 of its model year 2019-2020 Chevrolet Silverado 1500, Cadillac CT6 and GMC Sierra 1500 vehicles over a number of safety concerns, including a potential software glitch and fire risk.

* France has adopted a new law under which it raised the penalty to €20,000 from €12,500 on heavier vehicles, such as SUVs and trucks, emitting carbon dioxide above a certain threshold, effective 2020, Bloomberg News reported. Also, the French environment ministry is reportedly considering slashing cash incentives for purchasing electric cars due to the assumption that prices will drop. The government will provide a subsidy of €6,000 for purchase of cars priced below €45,000, while the subsidies will be dropped in 2021 and 2022.

AUTO PARTS AND EQUIPMENT

* Lippert Components Inc., a subsidiary of auto-parts maker LCI Industries, said it completed the previously announced acquisition of Wisconsin-based truck accessories maker Curt Group for about $340 million.

* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV has agreed to sell its global cast iron automotive components business to Brazil's Tupy SA for €210 million. The transaction includes FCA subsidiary Teksid SpA's global assets and production facilities in Brazil, Mexico, Poland and Portugal.

AUTOMOTIVE RETAIL

* The Finnish Competition and Consumer Authority approved used cars retailer Kamux Suomi Oy's proposed acquisition of Jagro Oy's used-car business, Autosilta.

* A consortium led by Toyota Motor Corp.'s Toyota Tsusho Corp. signed a contract to develop a "roll-on, roll-off" vehicle terminal at Egypt's East Port Said, Reuters reported, citing a statement from the Suez Canal Economic Zone. The consortium reportedly will operate the terminal for import, export and transshipment of vehicles with an initial investment of $150 million and an annual operating concession of $233 million.

COMMERCIAL VEHICLES

* Volkswagen's MAN Energy Solutions unit has attracted interest from buyers, including Advent International Corp.-owned Innio, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. and Cummins Inc., and it could be valued between €1.5 billion and €2 billion, Reuters reported, citing sources. They reportedly added that Hyundai Heavy Industries Holdings Co. Ltd. is no longer in the running. The bidders may be asked to submit final offers by the end of February 2020, according to the news wire. Volkswagen reportedly declined to comment.

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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 was up 0.25% to 27,871.35, and the Nikkei 225 slid 0.20% to 23,816.63.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 inched up 0.19% to 7,588.55, and the Euronext 100 gained 0.61%% to 1,149.96.

On the macro front

The GDP report, the corporate profits report, the personal income and outlays report, the consumer sentiment report, the Kansas City Fed manufacturing index and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count 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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