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Toyota's Woes Continue Over Recall Issues

Toyota has had its credit rating downgraded following the worldwide recall of millions of its products because of quality and safety issues.

Moody's Investors Service lowered the Japanese automaker's rating Thursday (from Aa1 to Aa2). Moody's said the recall of some eight million vehicles due to unintended acceleration, especially in the United States, raises doubts about Toyota's long-term profitability.

The world's top-ranked carmaker predicted it would lose at least $2 billion in sales because of the recalls, and is also facing dozens of lawsuits. It announced earlier this week it will pay a $16.4 million fine in the U.S. for withholding information on the gas pedal defects that caused the unintended acceleration.

The problems are blamed for the deaths of at least 39 people worldwide.

But Moody's says it expects Toyota to retain its position as the world's leading automaker.

Toyota has also recalled more than more than 400,000 Prius hybrid vehicles due to problems with its braking system, and recently recalled some 34,000 luxury sport utility vehicles worldwide because of potential rollover accidents.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.