If evidence was required that conditions are tough in the auto industry even for stellar performers, ratings agency Fitch has just provided some.

Fitch Ratings has said it may downgrade Toyota's ''AAA'' long-term foreign and local currency issuer default ratings and senior unsecured ratings in light of extremely difficult conditions facing the global automotive industry.
 
Fitch will assess whether Toyota will be able to ''maintain a financial and operational profile that is consistent with its current AAA rating,'' the international rating agency said, adding it will draw a conclusion ''within several weeks.''
 
The difficult market conditions are expected to result in continuing weak operating performances for Toyota and other major automakers for an extended period of time, according to Fitch.

Toyota is the only Japanese company assigned the highest ratings by Fitch and other rating agencies.

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