Page last updated at 08:06 GMT, Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Toyota shuts plants for 11 days

Toyota cars
Toyota sales fell 37% in the US in December and 18% in Japan

Toyota is to halt production at all 12 of its Japanese factories for 11 days in February and March as it tries to reduce its stock of unsold cars.

It had already announced a three-day halt for January, but before that it had not cut production since 1993, when it did so for one day.

Toyota's sales in the US fell 37% in December, which was a worse decline than either General Motors or Ford.

About 40% of the cars Toyota sells in the US are made in Japan.

Despite the gloomy news, Toyota shares rose 1.3% in Tokyo on Tuesday as the yen weakened against the dollar.

The strong yen has made Japanese cars more expensive to already cash-strapped US consumers.

Toyota warned two weeks ago that it would report its first annual operating loss this year.

Sales are also falling in Japan - on Monday Toyota announced that its sales in Japan had fallen 18% in December and 7.4% in the whole of 2008.

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