06 Nov 2008 01:39:40

TOKYO (Reuters) –
Toyota Motor Corp, the world's No.1 automaker, warned operating profits will sink to a 13-year low this year, as other carmakers sought more state help to ride out a financial crisis that is crippling demand and squeezing credit around the globe.

After a week of profit warnings from six of the seven other Japanese car makers, industry watchers had braced for similar pain at Toyota -- until recently the envy of the sector with eight straight years of profit growth.

But a 63 percent cut in forecast operating profit, to 600 billion yen ($6.1 billion), was far beyond the most pessimistic prediction -- and would be Toyota's lowest profit since 1995/96, and down 74 percent from a record 2.2 trillion yen last year.

"I was very much stunned," Koji Endo, an analyst at Credit Suisse. "First-half profit was already more than 580 billion yen, so that means the company is looking at virtually no profit in the second half.

A poll of 17 brokers had forecast 1.34 trillion yen for the year to March 2009.

The maker of the Camry sedan, Prius gas-electric hybrid and Tundra pickup has cut production, let go temporary staff and offered buyers unprecedented incentives as sales in key markets slide due to the spreading global crisis.

But its U.S. rivals are in more dire straits.

General Motors Corp warned this week that the industry's prospects are dwindling fast as a "near collapse" in demand for cars accelerates the pace of cash burn.

The chief executives of Detroit's Big Three -- GM, Ford Motor Co and Chrysler LLC -- are scheduled to lobby House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi later on Thursday on the need for new and immediate aid, on top of $25 billion in loans sought from the outgoing Bush administration.

GM and Ford are expected to post dismal results on Friday.

Honda Motor Co Chief Executive Takeo Fukui, meanwhile, complained about wild fluctuations in the yen, saying authorities should step in to prevent a sudden rise in the currency -- a major culprit for Japanese car makers' revisions.


Toyota's forecast cuts came as an even bigger shock after a newspaper reported earlier that the figure could merely "fall short" of 1 trillion yen.

The Tokyo Shimbun daily report had sent Toyota shares down 10 percent in Tokyo, before the results were announced. Tokyo's transport sector subindex fell in line and Toyota shares in Frankfurt later slumped 13 percent.

"I had never imagined such a big downward revision on its earnings outlook and a sharp fall in its interim result," said Yasuaki Iwamoto, an analyst at Okasan Securities, predicting a sharp drop in the share price in Tokyo on Friday.

For the year to end-March, Toyota now expects 550 billion yen net profit instead of 1.25 trillion yen -- based on a dollar and euro average of 100 yen and 130 yen assumed for the second half, versus less favourable levels of 98 yen and 127 yen on Thursday.

The impact of a global credit crisis has spread to emerging markets such as China and India, throwing a wrench in automakers' plans to seek strong growth there to offset slumping sales in the big U.S. and European markets.

Toyota lowered its 2008/09 global sales forecast to 8.24 million vehicles from 8.74 million, expecting weaker demand in most regions.

"In this environment, it's impossible to tell when things will start to improve," Executive Vice President Mitsuo Kinoshita told reporters, adding he hoped the U.S. market would start to recover around the end of next year.

He said Toyota would urgently reduce costs and speed up the roll-out of fuel-efficient hybrids, starting with four new models next year.

Toyota's U.S. sales have fallen 12 percent so far this year, prompting the top Japanese automaker to lower its forecast there this week -- the second cut in four months.

Ford and GM welcomed government efforts on Wednesday to expedite regulations for administering the advanced technology loans. Industry believed two months ago that the financing for more efficiency would be enough to help it fund crucial projects, such as the electric Chevrolet Volt, and help it avoid further turmoil.

But Wall Street's meltdown and the cascading global credit crisis sank debt portfolios of the Detroit manufacturers and choked off consumer borrowing for auto purchases.

"There's widespread recognition that the economic downturn and the credit crunch totally changed the situation and that industry is facing serious difficulties, and there is a need for additional assistance," said Alan Reuther, legislative director for the UAW, the main autoworkers' union.

($1=97.81 Yen)

(Additional reporting by Sachi Izumi and Aiko Hayashi in TOKYO and John Crawley in WASHINGTON, Editing by Lincoln Feast & Ian Geoghegan)

6.11.08 12:16, kommentieren

hazard Insurance

05 Nov 2008 05:14:31

WASHINGTON – His name etched in history as America's first black president-elect, Barack Obama turned Wednesday from the jubilation of victory to the sobering challenge of leading a nation worried about economic crisis, two unfinished wars and global uncertainty.

"The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep," Obama cautioned.

Young and charismatic but with little experience on the national level, Obama smashed through racial barriers and easily defeated Republican John McCain to become the first African-American destined to sit in the Oval Office, America's 44th president. He was the first Democrat to receive more than 50 percent of the popular vote since Jimmy Carter in 1976.

"It's been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this date in this election at this defining moment, change has come to America," Obama told a victory rally of 125,000 people jammed into Chicago's Grant Park.

After an improbable journey that started for Obama 21 months ago and drew a record-shattering $700 million to his campaign account alone, Obama scored an Electoral College landslide that redrew America's political map. He won states that reliably voted Republican in presidential elections, like Indiana and Virginia, which hadn't supported the Democratic candidate in 44 years. Ohio and Florida, key to President Bush's twin victories, also went for Obama, as did Pennsylvania, which McCain had deemed crucial for his election hopes.

With most U.S. precincts tallied, the popular vote was 52.3 percent for Obama and 46.4 percent for McCain. But the count in the Electoral College was lopsided — 349 to 147 in Obama's favor as of early Wednesday, with three states still to be decided. Those were North Carolina, Georgia and Missouri.

With just 76 days until the inauguration, Obama is expected to move quickly to begin assembling a White House staff and selecting Cabinet nominees. Campaign officials said Illinois Rep. Rahm Emanuel was the front-runner to be Obama's chief of staff. The advisers spoke on a condition of anonymity because the announcement had not yet been made.

With these moves and many others to come upon him quickly, Obama planned a low-key, everyman day-after in his hometown of Chicago. The president-elect was taking his two young daughters to school, and then heading to the gym, with little else on his schedule.

The nation awakened to the new reality at daybreak, a short night after millions witnessed Obama's election — an event so rare it could not be called a once-in-a-century happening. Prominent black leaders wept unabashedly in public, rejoicing in the elevation of one of their own — at long last.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who had made two White House bids himself, said on ABC's "Good Morning America" that the tears streaming down his face upon Obama's victory were about his father and grandmother and "those who paved the fights. And then that Barack's so majestic."

"He's going to call on us, I believe, to sacrifice. We all must give up something," Rep. John Lewis, a Georgia Democrat and leading player in the civil rights movement with Jackson, said on NBC's "Today" show.

Speaking from Hong Kong, retired Gen. Colin Powell, the black Republican whose endorsement of Obama symbolized the candidate's bipartisan reach and bolstered him against charges of inexperience, called the senator's victory "a very very historic occasion." But he also predicted that Obama would be "a president for all America."

Bush, whose public approval ratings have plummeted in the waning days of his presidency, was mostly behind the scenes in the last weeks of the historic campaign. He called Obama to congratulate him late Tuesday and scheduled a midmorning statement in the White House Rose Garden.

Democrats expanded their majority in both houses of Congress.

In the Senate, Democrats ousted Republicans Elizabeth Dole of North Carolina and John Sununu of New Hampshire and captured seats held by retiring GOP senators in Virginia, New Mexico and Colorado. Still, the GOP blocked a complete rout, holding the Kentucky seat of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the Minnesota seat of Norm Coleman, who had been challenged by Democrat Al Franken, and a Mississippi seat once held by Trent Lott — three top Democratic targets.

In the House, with fewer than a dozen races still undecided, Democrats captured Republican-held seats in the Northeast, South and West and were on a path to pick up as many as 20 seats.

When Obama and running mate Joe Biden take their oath of office on Jan. 20, Democrats will control both the White House and Congress for the first time since 1994.

"It is not a mandate for a party or ideology but a mandate for change," said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California said the American people "have called for a new direction. They have called for change in America." She scheduled a midday news conference on Capitol Hill Wednesday to elaborate.

After the longest and costliest campaign in U.S. history, Obama was propelled to victory by voters dismayed by eight years of Bush's presidency and deeply anxious about rising unemployment and home foreclosures and a battered stock market that has erased trillions of dollars of savings for Americans.

Six in 10 voters picked the economy as the most important issue facing the nation in an Associated Press exit poll. None of the other top issues — energy, Iraq, terrorism and health care — was selected by more than one in 10. Obama has promised to cut taxes for most Americans, get the United States out of Iraq and expand health care, including mandatory coverage for children.

Obama acknowledged that repairing the economy and dealing with problems at home and overseas will not happen quickly — alluding even in the first blush of victory to the possibility of a second term. "We may not get there in one year or even in one term," he said. "But, America, I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you, we as a people will get there."

McCain conceded defeat shortly after 11 p.m. EST, telling supporters outside the Arizona Biltmore Hotel, "The American people have spoken, and they have spoken clearly."

"This is an historic election, and I recognize the special significance it has for African-Americans and the special pride that must be theirs tonight," McCain said. "These are difficult times for our country. And I pledge to him tonight to do all in my power to help him lead us through the many challenges we face."

Obama faces a staggering list of problems, that he called "the greatest of our lifetime — two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century." He spoke of parents who worry about paying their mortgages and medical bills.

"There will be setbacks and false starts," Obama said. "There are many who won't agree with every decision or policy I make as president. And we know the government can't solve every problem."

The son of a Kenyan father and a white mother from Kansas, the 47-year-old Obama has had a startlingly rapid rise, from lawyer and community organizer to state legislator and U.S. senator, now just four years into his first term. He is the first senator elected to the White House since John F. Kennedy in 1960.

Bush called Obama with congratulations at 11:12 p.m. EST. "I promise to make this a smooth transition," the president said. "You are about to go on one of the great journeys of life. Congratulations and go enjoy yourself." He invited Obama and his family to visit the White House soon.

Obama won California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, Vermont, Washington and Wisconsin.

McCain had Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, West Virginia and Wyoming. He also won at least 3 of Nebraska's five electoral votes, with the other two in doubt.

Almost six in 10 women supported Obama nationwide, while men leaned his way by a narrow margin, according to interviews with voters. Just over half of whites supported McCain, giving him a slim advantage in a group that Bush carried overwhelmingly in 2004.

The results of the AP survey were based on a preliminary partial sample of nearly 10,000 voters in Election Day polls and in telephone interviews over the past week for early voters.

In terms of turnout, America voted in record numbers. It looks like 136.6 million Americans will have voted for president this election, based on 88 percent of the country's precincts tallied and projections for absentee ballots, said Michael McDonald of George Mason University. Using his methods, that would give 2008 a 64.1 percent turnout rate.

"That would be the highest turnout rate that we've seen since 1908," which was 65.7 percent, McDonald said early Wednesday.

5.11.08 15:37, kommentieren

living trust

03 Nov 2008 23:25:35

MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Even in reliably red states where Barack Obama has little chance of winning on Tuesday, unprecedented numbers of registrations and early votes have been tallied, and elections officials are predicting a record turnout in places where neither candidate even bothered to campaign.

An aggressive and well-financed get-out-the-vote campaign helped Obama's campaign mobilize unprecedented numbers of African-American and new voters who could help decide the presidential election by swinging states like North Carolina and Virginia to the Democrat.

But even in states like Alabama, Utah, Nebraska and Oklahoma, Republican strongholds where John McCain could post double-digit wins, Obama's candidacy helped boost registration numbers, particularly in urban areas. Republicans countered by mobilizing their own base, a process aided by McCain's vice presidential pick, Sarah Palin, who's popular among conservatives.

"It may not shift Alabama from red to blue, or shift Tennessee from red to blue," Ferrel Guillory, an expert in Southern politics at the University of North Carolina, said of the turnout projections. "But it could have an effect over the long term."

And while these states have been comfortably in McCain's column for months, a record turnout could benefit candidates further down the ballot. As in swing states, the consensus among experts is that the trend favors Democrats.

In Alabama, a state that has gone consistently Republican in presidential elections since picking Ronald Reagan in 1980, Obama's army of volunteers conducted voter registration drives that helped push the state's voter rolls past 3 million for the first time, and they registered blacks at a faster rate than whites.

"Obama realized there was no way to wrestle Alabama away from McCain," but a higher African-American turnout is likely to benefit Democrats running for the state Supreme Court and other offices, said D'Linell Finley, a political scientist at Auburn University Montgomery.

The story is similar in Tennessee, which saw many more early voters than in 2004, especially in Democratic-leaning counties; and in South Carolina, where records fell for both registration and absentee voting.

"There are going to be some tight races that normally were not going to be tight," said South Carolina's Republican Party chairman, Katon Dawson, who has no doubts about a McCain victory there but is worried about down-the-ballot contests.

"I think we have very good prospects to pick up a congressional seat or two," said his Democratic counterpart, Carol Fowler.

In Utah, Kentucky, Louisiana — all solidly red states — this election has inspired intense interest.

Nebraska, which has given all five of its electoral votes to Republicans in every election since 1964, fell just 3,000 short of a record for voter registration, but Secretary of State John Gale was forecasting record turnout anyway.

And even there "Republicans are not gaining to the same degree as Democrats and independents," he said. "You definitely have to attribute it to the Obama campaign."

Nebraska is one of two states that can split its electoral votes, and Obama opened three offices in Omaha to try to shave off one of those votes.

But even as Obama managed to inspire Democrats in decidedly red states, Republicans had a secret weapon of their own in rallying conservative voters.

McCain's selection of Palin was critical to building enthusiasm among the party's traditional base, said Merle Black, a political scientist at Emory University in Atlanta.

"She is giving a voice to a lot of conservative voters — particularly evangelicals — in a way McCain never could do on his own," he said. "She's a heroine in the religious community."

Early voting in Oklahoma set an all-time high, and a record turnout on Election Day appeared likely, according to Mike Clingman, election board secretary. Polls there have shown Obama getting about a third of the vote, about the same as John Kerry four years ago.

State Democratic Party Chairman Ivan Holmes is expecting a strong Obama turnout in urban areas, but he anticipates a backlash in some conservative areas where the candidate's race may be a factor — "especially among older voters."

Texas saw its voter registration hit a record 13.5 million this year. But neither presidential candidate spent much time in a state that has gone Republican in every election since 1980.

Randall Dillard, spokesman for the secretary of state, said both sides were driving the registration boom.

"History can be made," he said, "no matter how this race goes."


Associated Press writers Jim Davenport in Columbia, S.C., Erik Schelzig in Nashville, Tenn., Melinda Deslatte in Baton Rouge, Lou., Joe Biesk in Louisville, Ky., Liz White in Salt Lake City, Utah, Kelly Shannon in Austin, Texas, Anna Jo Bratton in Omaha, Neb., and Ron Jenkins in Oklahoma City contributed to this report.

4.11.08 09:53, kommentieren

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