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Feb 5, 5:05 AM EST

Toyota posts $5.4 billion quarterly profit, raises forecast


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TOKYO (AP) -- Toyota's quarterly profit rose nearly 5 percent as the weaker yen and cost reductions offset declining sales in some markets. The automaker raised its full-year earnings forecast.

Toyota Motor Corp., the No. 1 automaker in global vehicle sales, reported Friday a 627.9 billion yen ($5.4 billion) profit for the October-December fiscal third quarter, up from 600 billion yen a year earlier.

Quarterly sales rose 2 percent to 7.34 trillion yen ($63 billion).

Toyota, which makes the Prius hybrid, Camry sedan and Lexus luxury model, raised its annual profit forecast to 2.27 trillion yen ($19.5 billion) from 2.25 trillion yen ($19.2 billion).

The higher profit projection comes despite a six-day production halt this month because of a parts shortage caused by an explosion at an Aichi Steel Corp. manufacturing plant. Toyota's vehicle production in Japan will be suspended from Feb. 8 to Feb. 13. Overseas production is not affected.

Over the three month period through December, Toyota's vehicle sales rose in North America, while declining in Japan, Europe and Asia.

Managing Officer Tetsuya Otake said cost reductions and the weaker-than-expected yen offset increased sales expenses.

Although Toyota stumbled with massive recalls several years ago, mostly in the U.S., over a variety of defects, it has recently shifted gears to pursue growth more aggressively.

It outpaced Volkswagen AG of Germany, which has been hurt by an emissions cheating scandal, as well as U.S. rival General Motors Co. in global vehicle sales. Toyota sold 10.15 million vehicles around the world last year

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