Agency revises debt outlook
Fitch Ratings agency yesterday revised its debt outlook for the country to negative from stable, citing government debt at more than twice the value of GDP in the fast-ageing nation. “Japan’s sovereign credit-worthiness is under negative pressure from rising government indebtedness,” said Andrew Colquhoun, head of Fitch’s Asia-Pacific Sovereigns team, in a statement. “A stronger fiscal consolidation strategy is necessary to buffer the sustainability of the public finances against the adverse structural trend of population ageing.”
Banks’ debt downgraded
Moody’s yesterday downgraded the debt ratings of the country’s four largest banks, citing the country’s “challenging” economic environment after two devastating earthquakes in Christchurch. The move to lower the ratings of ANZ National, Bank of New Zealand, ASB and Westpac New Zealand to Aa3 from Aa2 follows a downgrade to the four banks’ Australian parents last week. Aa3 is the fourth highest rating on a 21-point scale. “[It] reflects the ongoing impact of the challenging economic environment in New Zealand, which has resulted in asset quality metrics continuing to deteriorate — albeit at a slower pace — beyond minimum expectations,” Moody’s said.
Consumer prices rise
The country’s consumer prices rose for the first time in 28 months last month after a huge quake and Arab turmoil raised fuel prices, data showed yesterday, but analysts said the deflationary spiral is not over yet. Japan’s core consumer price index, which excludes volatile fresh food prices, rose 0.6 percent last month from a year earlier, the first increase since December 2008, according to the internal affairs ministry. The nationwide rise last month, which was in line with market expectations, was due largely to higher costs for oil products.
Japan chides Sony over data
Sony Corp was told by the Japanese government to improve management of personal data after the Japanese electronics maker’s networks were attacked by hackers who stole customer information. Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry announced the order on its Web site yesterday. Separately, Sony said it will resume some of its PlayStation Network and Qriocity entertainment services in Asia today, more than a month after the biggest online data breach in US history led to the suspension of operations.
Honda, Toyota release data
Japanese auto giants Toyota and Honda saw global production halve last month because the March 11 earthquake and tsunami ravaged supply chains, the companies said yesterday. Honda reported a 52.9 percent year-on-year drop in worldwide production and an 81 percent slump in domestic output, while Toyota said global production was down 48.1 percent. Amid power and parts shortages, Toyota had announced production disruptions domestically and in the US, Europe, China and Australia because of the crisis, temporarily slowing output or shutting plants. The company announced a year-on-year drop of 15.4 percent in its global sales figures for last month. Honda said it expected production volume in Asia and Oceania to start picking up in July, the carmaker’s Asian Honda Motor Co unit said.