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FORD LOWERS PROFIT OUTLOOK

Ford Motor Co. on Friday lowered its full-year profit forecast, citing high gas prices and aggressive discounts by competitors, and said it doesn't expect to reach its goal of hitting $7 billion in total pretax profit by 2006.

The news prompted Standard & Poor's Ratings Services to lower its outlook from stable to negative for Ford and its other businesses.

The nation's No. 2 automaker now expects 2005 earnings in the range of $1.25 to $1.50 a share.

Last month, Ford said its full-year profit would be at the lower end of expectations for earnings of $1.75 to $1.95 per share, excluding special items. It expects automotive pretax profit this year to be break-even at best, down from a previous goal of roughly $1.5 billion.

Analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial currently expect full-year earnings of $1.64 per share.

Ford's announcement comes less than a month after General Motors Corp., the world's largest automaker, slashed its full-year earnings outlook by more than half, citing poor North American business and rising health care costs.