Afternoon Coffee: Uber Suspended from Autonomous Vehicle Testing in Arizona, Apple Supplier Seeks to Build Ethical Cobalt Supply Chain

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Arizona officials announced Monday they would ban Uber from testing its autonomous vehicles in the state, the New York Times reports. The decision follows the death of woman in Tempe eight days ago. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey said the incident showed Uber had failed to meet an expectation that it would prioritize public safety as it tested the technology.

Ethical Cobalt

Apple supplier Huayou Cobalt Co. has joined an industry initiative to ensure the cobalt in its products is sourced ethically, IndustryWeek reports. The Better Cobalt project, an initiative of the Better Sourcing Program, seeks to track supply from mines in Congo, the world’s top producer, to the batteries used in phones and vehicles.

"It is literally impossible at the moment for any company to say that their cobalt supply chain is highly ethical," said Nicholas Garrett, a director at the Better Sourcing Program running the pilot. “We can make sourcing from the artisanal and small-scale sector a possibility for more companies and, in fact, something that is a good contribution to the regional economy."

Yuan Surges

China’s central bank set the dollar’s reference rate at 6.2816 yuan on Tuesday, putting the yuan at its strongest since August 11, 2015, following a surprise surge in the currency’s value, the Wall Street Journal reports. What exactly drove the yuan’s rise was not immediately clear, according to analysts, although the offshore markets and increased interest in Chinese debts were potential candidates.

Consumer Confidence 

And finally, an economic update: U.S. consumer confidence turned sour in March, dropping 2.3 points to a reading of 127.7 in the Conference Board index. As Reuters reports, a volatile stock market has shaken consumers’ perception of the economy, while a slow housing market has steadily inflated home prices.

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