* Lebanon received an Interpol arrest warrant for former Nissan Motor Co. Ltd. Chairman Carlos Ghosn, who recently fled Japan, Reuters reported, citing a Lebanese judicial source. Lebanon's caretaker defense minister, Elias Bou Saab, said Lebanon did not play any "official role" in Ghosn's departure from Japan. Meanwhile, Agnes Pannier-Runacher, secretary of state to the Minister of the Economy and Finance, told BFM TV that Ghosn would not be extradited from France if he arrived in the country.
* Tesla Inc. slashed the price of its China-built Model 3 by 9% to 323,800 Chinese yuan from 355,800 yuan. Following subsidies from the Chinese government, the Model 3 prices now start from 299,050 yuan, a 16% drop, Bloomberg News reported, citing the electric-car maker's Chinese website. Separately, financial services firm Canaccord Genuity raised its price target for Tesla to $515 from $375, reiterating a buy rating on the electric-car maker's stock, Bloomberg News reported. Tesla's stock closed 2.85% higher at $430.26 per share on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
* Turkish airline MNG Jet filed a criminal complaint against an employee who falsified flight records that enabled auto executive Carlos Ghosn to flee from Japan via Istanbul, The Wall Street Journal reported, citing a company statement. Separately, Ghosn has denied that his family, including his wife, had a role to play in his escape, Bloomberg News reported. "I alone organized my departure. … My family played no role," Ghosn reportedly said.
* Chinese electric-vehicles maker Lixiang Automotive confidentially filed for a U.S. IPO seeking to raise at least $500 million, Reuters reported, citing sources. The EV producer reportedly hired Goldman Sachs to lead the listing that is expected to take place within the first half of 2020.
* A high demand for Tesla Model 3 sedans saw Norway post a record 30.9% rise in electric vehicle sales in 2019, Bloomberg News reported, citing the Norwegian Road Federation. Fully electric cars reportedly comprised 42.4% of the total sales in Norway, up from 31.2% in 2018. Tesla's Model 3 was the country's highest-selling model with 15,683 cars sold. Volkswagen AG's namesake brand and Tesla each accounted for about 13% of the total car sales of 142,381.
* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV said it will open a startup incubator in Detroit in June 2020, in collaboration with Plug and Play startup platform and the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council. The incubator will focus on research and development in automated driving, connectivity, electrification and shared mobility.
* Fiat Chrysler Automobiles said all Jeep variants will offer electrification options by 2022, as the automaker showcased three plug-in hybrid electric vehicles at the CES 2020 show.
AUTONOMOUS AND CONNECTED VEHICLES
* Consumer electronics producer Sony Corp. is developing low-cost light detection and ranging, or LIDAR, sensor, a technology that is critical for autonomous vehicles, the Financial Times (London) reported, citing Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida. The Japanese company reportedly plans to produce a silicon-based sensor that will be more affordable, compact and resistant to vibrations than the current crop of sensors.
* Uber Technologies Inc. completed its previously announced purchase of Dubai-based online on-demand ride-hailing platform Careem Networks FZ LLC for $3.1 billion.
POLICY, REGULATION AND SAFETY
* South Korea has allocated 60% more funds at 950 billion South Korean won, or $821 million, in 2019 budget for expanding its eco-friendly automobile market, Yonhap News Agency reported, citing the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy. The ministry reportedly will use the funds to provide more subsidies and install more charging stations across the country. Seoul earmarked an additional 204 billion won to support research and development projects related to green vehicles in 2020, the report said.
AUTO PARTS AND EQUIPMENT
* Nexteer Automotive Group Ltd. said its president and executive board director, Michael Richardson, will retire after 45 years at the auto-parts maker. He will be replaced by COO Tao Liu.
* Bayerische Motoren Werke AG said it has sold more than 165,000 units of i3 all-electric car to date since its launch six years ago and that it plans to extend production of the cars until 2024.
* Brazilian automakers federation Fenabrave expects auto sales to grow 9% to 2.9 million units in 2020, compared to a 8.65% increase to 2.79 million vehicles in 2019, Reuters reported.
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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 declined 0.32% to 28,451.50.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.46% to 7,569.23, and the Euronext 100 was down 0.66% to 1,150.59.
On the macro front
The motor vehicles sales report, the ISG Manufacturing Index, the construction spending report, the EIA Natural Gas 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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