Shares in shopping centre leviathan Westfield Group have slid further amid growing fears its shock downgrade Tuesday was only the start of write-downs in 2009 in the property trust sector.

Fund managers and analysts warned that tougher conditions for the industry could force property owners in retail, office and industrial space to ratchet up capital rates and slash the value of the buildings on their balance sheets.

Westfield kicked off a horror start to the 2009 reporting season this week when it warned it would book a $3 billion chop to its portfolio of shopping centres to reflect dire trading conditions in Australia, New Zealand, US and Britain.

The Age