Panasonic Corp., the world's largest consumer-electronics maker, announced on Wednesday that it will cut about 15,000 jobs and says it expects to post its first loss in six years amid a global economic slump.

The company plans to close 27 factories initially and may close more in the coming fiscal year, said Panasonic Director Makoto Uenoyama, according to Reuters. That represents about 20 percent of the company's factories. Half the job cuts will be in Japan and half overseas, he said.

The company, which today downgraded its sales and profit expectations, said in a released statement that both domestic and overseas markets conditions have further deteriorated since its previous forecasts in Nov. 27 last year.

Panasonic blamed the growing strength of the yen, lower consumer spending and ever-intensified price competition and rising prices for raw materials.

Panasonic now expects to post a full year loss of 380 billion yen ($4.4 billion) and a 15 percent drop in sales for the fiscal year ending March 31. On Nov. 27

The company had anticipated a profit of 30 billion yen. Its net sales forecast is now 7,750 billion yen, down from a 8,500 billion yen prediction in Nov.

The company also plans to cut its shareholder year-end dividend from 22.5 yen per common share to 7.5 yen per common share. Total dividends for fiscal 2009 ending March 31, 2009 – including the end-of-year dividends - are expected to be 30.0 yen per common share, down from 35.0 yen per common share in fiscal 2005.