Source: Agencies

Source: Agencies

TOKYO: Toyota Motor Corp. will raise its annual global sales target to 7 million vehicles, local media reported Wednesday.

The world's top automaker estimated in August that it would sell 6.6 million units this fiscal year through March 2010 after sales plunged 15 percent to 7.57 million vehicles last year. The higher forecast reflects improving business in the U.S. and Europe thanks to government subsidies for fuel-efficient cars, the Nikkei financial daily and Yomiuri newspaper said, without citing sources.

Demand in China and Asia is also helping the maker of the popular Prius hybrid. Toyota spokesman Paul Nolaso said the media reports are not based on information released by the company.

Its official global sales target remains at 6.6 million, he said. The U.S. auto industry showed signs of stability in October, with total sales of cars and light trucks unchanged at just over 838,000 compared with October of last year.

But the figure rose 12 percent from a dismal September 2009, Autodata Corp. reported Tuesday.

Toyota said it sold 152,165 vehicles in the U.S. during the month, nearly flat from a year earlier. Sales of the Prius, however, jumped 14 percent to 13,496 units.

The automaker reports earnings for the fiscal second quarter on Thursday. It expects a 450 billion yen ($5 billion) loss for the fiscal year through March 2010, worse than the 350 billion yen ($3.9 billion) loss in the previous fiscal year.

In trading, Toyota's shares rose 1.1 percent to 3,610 yen, outpacing the benchmark Nikkei's 0.1 percent gain.