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Japanese Automaker Reports Strong Earnings

An automaker reports strong earnings while a fast food chain slashes prices.

The Japanese operation of the U.S. fast food chain McDonald's slashed prices on plain hamburgers to about 50 cents, its lowest price ever.

The move is the latest in a series of aggressive price cuts by McDonald's meant to attract more customers amid a prolonged economic slump.

McDonald's President Yasuyuki Yagi says he hopes to see many customers come to his restaurants. He adds that a survey shows 80 percent of the chain's customers are satisfied with the latest price cut.

Prices in other industries are falling as well. The latest data from the Bank of Japan confirms that deflation remains a worry. Domestic wholesale prices in July fell 1.2 percent from the same time last year. That marks nearly two years of consecutive declines. The BOJ says the latest drop is due to lower demand from the United States and cheaper prices for electronics.

Toyota, Japan's largest auto maker, is going strong. The company posted a net profit of $2.8 billion in the three months to June. That is more than double from the same period last year.

The auto giant attributes its performance to robust sales in the United States and favorable exchange rates. Toyota officials say they hope to achieve record earnings this fiscal year.

The Japanese unit of American theme-park operator Universal Studios is undergoing a police probe. Police raided its offices Friday for evidence the company may have used and stored more explosives than is permitted. They are used for special effects in the park's displays.

The company says it is fully cooperating with investigators. The popular theme park in Osaka also has faced problems with the hygiene standards of food and water served on its premises.