Nissan slashing production
Nissan Motor Co said yesterday it would slash domestic production by 64,000 vehicles next month and in March to trim inventories and adjust to a drastic slide in global demand. The bad news comes on the heels of media reports yesterday that Japan’s No. 3 automaker was likely to post an operating loss in the fiscal year through March, joining a growing list of big Japanese corporate names expected to slide into the red. The Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan’s top-selling newspaper, and Kyodo News agency reported Nissan would sink into operating losses for the fiscal year through March. That would mark its first operating loss under chief executive Carlos Ghosn.
POSCO sales hit record
South Korea’s top steelmaker POSCO said yesterday its net profit and sales hit a record high last year, helped by high prices in the first nine months. Net profit was 4.45 trillion won (US$3.24 billion) last year, up 21 percent from 3.68 trillion won a year earlier, the world’s fourth-largest steelmaker said. Operating profit jumped 52 percent year-on-year to 6.54 trillion won. Sales soared 38 percent to an all-time high of 30.6 trillion won. POSCO attributed the good results to a cost-saving drive, strong sales of value-added products, and high prices before demand fell sharply in the fourth quarter. It predicted sales would fall by up to 12 percent this year.
PM warns of stagnation
The country faces the prospect of no economic growth and a jump in unemployment this year because of the impact of the global financial crisis, Prime Minister John Key said yesterday. Key said the international situation had deteriorated since last month and that the country was moving closer to the “downside scenario” put forward by the Treasury at the end of last year. “If that scenario plays out, the economy in 2009 will stand still,” he said at a press conference after meeting senior economic ministers. He said unemployment could rise to 7 percent later in the year from the latest figure of 4.2 percent and rise to 7.5 percent next year.
Sanyo to cut 1,200 jobs
Sanyo Electric Co said yesterday it would cut 1,200 jobs in Japan and overseas as part of efforts to turn around its struggling semiconductor operations amid the economic downturn. “In our semiconductor and related businesses we will cut 800 domestic positions and 400 positions overseas — in total 1,200 — including regular and temporary workers,” Sanyo vice president Koichi Maeda told a news conference. Earlier in the day Sanyo, which is being bought by rival Panasonic Corp, forecast zero net profit for the current financial year to March owing to weak sales of electronics devices and semiconductors, as well as the stronger yen.
Economy takes a hard hit
Morgan Stanley Asia chairman Stephen Roach said yesterday that China, which relies heavily on its export sector, had been hit particularly hard by the slowdown. The country’s growth in the second half of the year “basically went to zero,” Roach said. “For an economy that needs 6 percent growth to prevent unemployment from rising and to limit the outbreak of social instability, a major shortfall we saw in China in the second half of last year is very, very worrisome,” he said. He said Beijing needed a strong fiscal stimulus package, but also had to focus on boosting consumer spending.