The values of shares and bonds in DaimlerChrysler tumbled on Wednesday after the group cut its full-year profit forecast, blaming the impact of a fierce US price war on its Chrysler unit, Reuters reported.

DC warned late on Tuesday of a one-billion-euro operating loss at its US Chrysler unit in the second quarter, which would hurt full year group profits, the news agency said.

Reuters said DaimlerChrysler shares fell as much as 6.17% to 25.10 euros, wiping 1.68 billion euros from the group’s market capitalisation as analysts slashed their earnings estimates.

That was the biggest one-day percentage plunge since October 29, 2002 and the move dented the whole European sector, Reuters noted.

Trading volume in DaimlerChrysler equalled the 30-day daily average in the first hour, but by 0936 GMT Wednesday the shares had come off their lows and were down 3.6% at 25.80 euros, the report added.

According to Reuters, DaimlerChrysler blamed a fiercely competitive US market and high incentives, which reduce revenues and earnings, for a reduced 2003 operating profit target of some five billion euros, compared with its previous goal of beating 2002’s 5.8 billion.

“It was not expected but no wonder they are issuing a profit warning. Who is buying cars now with consumers saving like crazy?” Ulf Moritzen, fund manager at Nordinvest in Hamburg, commented to Reuters. “Unless you have a really good story with thrilling models, you are not going to make money with cars,” he reportedly added.

Reuters said DC’s bonds fell while the cost of insuring against a default rose and the group said it had decided not to proceed with a previously planned $US2.5 billion global bond.

Reuters also reported that Standard and Poor’s had on Tuesday cut its rating outlook on DaimlerChrysler’s debt to “negative” and described the new Chrysler forecast as “staggering”. S&P currently assigns DaimlerChrysler a BBB+ rating, Reuters noted.

Barclays Capital said in a note it expected Moody’s Investors Service to put the group’s A3 rating on review for downgrade, the news agency added.

Equities analysts, shocked at the scale of the Chrysler warning, cut their ratings and earnings forecasts and fretted there would be no quick fix at the unit since the problems are endemic to the current US light vehicle market, Reuters added.

The news agency noted that, in a further sign of the tough US market, Chrysler’s home market rivals General Motors and Ford on Tuesday said they would cut third quarter north American production.