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) -- A broad slump in European auto sales now appears likely to continue well into 2011.

"We expect the European market to be around 15 million units in 2010, down from 15.9 million last year," said Ingvar Sviggum, Ford of Europe's vice president of marketing, sales and service, in a prepared statement. "Also, we now expect the market to continue to decline in 2011, and expect it to be in the vicinity of 14 to 15 million units."

For the European automobile industry, October 2010 marked the seventh consecutive month of declining sales and was the worst October, with the worst year-to-date industry sales, since 2005. Some competitors continue to discount heavily, Ford said.

The decline in the European market was cited as a risk factor in the

General Motors

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initial public offering,

expected this week. General Motors said last week that it, like Ford,

lost money in Europe in the third quarter.

Looking ahead, a report by Global Insight and UBS estimates five-year sales growth rates of 10.1% in Eastern Europe, 5.8% worldwide and 2.5% in Western Europe.

Ford remained Europe's No. 2 best-selling passenger car brand in the first ten months of 2010. But its October sales in 19 European markets fell 25% to 91,500.

Ford retains year-to-date market leadership in the U.K., Denmark, Hungary, Ireland and Turkey and said its October sales grew by 44% in Turkey and by 28% in Russia. "This is a challenging time for the entire industry, but the Ford brand continues to strengthen in Europe," said Sviggum. In mid-morning trading Monday, Ford shares were up 45 cents to $16.75.

-- Written by Ted Reed in Charlotte, N.C.

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Ted Reed