The United Auto Workers and Big Three car makers appeared close to simultaneous labour agreements on Thursday, three days before the current pacts expire, union and motor industry officials familiar with the talks told Associated Press (AP).

The sources, who spoke to AP on condition of anonymity, said agreements between the UAW and General Motors, Ford and DaimlerChrysler could be announced as early as Friday but almost certainly before Sunday's midnight deadline.

"What would be a surprise is if the talks weren't settled before the deadline," an official with one of the car makers told AP.

Associated Press noted that the union and Big Three car makers have never reached simultaneous contract agreements - the union typically chooses one manufacturer as the lead negotiator and uses that pact as a model for the other two. The union has been bargaining with all three car makers at once this year and has not publicly named a lead company, AP added.

According to Associated Press, the UAW and Big Three, along with suppliers Delphi and Visteon, have held contract talks behind closed doors since mid-July. The pacts will cover wages and benefits for 300,000 workers and pension payments and benefits for another half-million retirees and their spouses, AP added.