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Nissan slashes output to trim stockpiles

NISSAN Motor Co said yesterday it is slashing domestic production by 64,000 vehicles in February and 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 said Japan's No. 3 auto maker is 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.

Since September, Nissan has already announced, over several times, domestic production cuts that combine to a cut of 225,000 vehicles, spokeswoman Haruko Wada said. The company had initially expected to produce 1.38 million vehicles in Japan for the fiscal year.

Like other exporters, Nissan has been hammered by the double blow of falling overseas sales stemming from the global financial crisis and the stronger yen, which erodes foreign income.

The latest reports follow dismal forecasts from top auto maker Toyota Motor Corp, which projected last month a 150-billion-yen (US$1.69 billion) operating loss for the fiscal year ending on March 31 ?? its first such red ink in 70 years.

Earlier this week, media reports and analysts predicted Sony Corp would also report an operating loss this fiscal year. Sony did not comment. Operating profit is seen as a direct indicator of core business performance while net profit reflects taxes, dividends, asset sales and other items.

The Yomiuri, the top-selling newspaper, and Kyodo News said Nissan would sink into operating losses for the fiscal year through March.

That would mark its first operating loss under Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn, the outspoken executive who has led a turnaround at Nissan after arriving from alliance partner Renault SA of France in 1999.

Nissan, which makes the Z sportscar and Infiniti luxury models, said in a release that the reports were not based on an announcement, but did not deny that a loss is possible.

To reduce Japan production, Nissan is halting output in February for 13 days at its Tochigi plant, 11 days in Kyushu and 9.5 days at Oppama, it said. Plans for March were still undecided.

Toyota and Honda Motor Co have also reduced production in Japan, laying off thousands of temporary assembly line workers.


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