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Written by: Staff

DETROIT, Mar 4 (Reuters) Shares of Ford Motor Co. on Friday fell to their lowest level in almost three years after one of its major parts suppliers filed for bankruptcy.

The U.S. operations of auto and truck parts maker Dana Corp. on Friday filed for Chapter 11 protection, citing high materials costs and declining production at large U.S. customers.

Ford, General Motors Corp. and DaimlerChrysler AG's Chrysler unit accounted for 46 per cent of Dana's revenue in 2004, the latest data available.

Ford shares were down 13 cents, or 1.7 per cent, to $7.53 in afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange, after touching an intraday low $7.39 earlier. That marked their nadir since March 2003.

Shares of DaimlerChrysler fell $1.06, or 1.9 per cent to $54.60, while GM shares slid 19 cents, or 0.9 per cent to $19.23 in Friday trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

Analysts said Dana's bankruptcy heightened investor concerns about the struggling sector and raised the risk that Detroit carmakers might face either a supply disruption or higher prices on components.

''A strike is always a threat in bankruptcy,'' said David Cole, chairman of the Center for Automotive Research. ''A strike would certainly have an impact on clients. If there were a strike in a critical part of the company, it would bring everyone down,'' he added.

Dana's bankruptcy adds to the list of U.S. auto parts makers that have turned to the courts to aid reorganizations in the past two years, including Delphi Corp., Collins&Aikman Corp. and Tower Automotive Inc.

''There is likely a greater concern about further bankruptcies in the industry,'' Standard and Poor's equity analyst Efraim Levy said.

''The more common bankruptcies at auto suppliers become, the increased perception that one of the automakers might go that route,'' he said.


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