UPDATE 3-Goodyear says N.A. unit's oper income fell in May


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CHICAGO, June 23 (Reuters) - Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. , one of the world's largest tire makers, said on Monday that operating income at its North American unit declined in May due to higher costs and weak prices.

Akron, Ohio-based Goodyear, whose stock ended down 6.8 percent on the news, needs to turn around its North American tire business to regain its financial footing.

To save money, the company recently refinanced its bank loans, eliminated its dividend, put its chemicals unit on the block and stopped matching employee retirement plan contributions.

Goodyear has also asked the United Steelworkers of America union for substantial concessions. The USWA, which made a contract offer over the weekend, has set Friday as the deadline for a tentative agreement.

On a positive note, Goodyear's North American shipments of consumer replacement tires rose in May, while industrywide shipments fell nearly 4 percent during the period.

The company's North American shipments to car and truck makers declined more than the 8 percent industrywide drop. The fall was consistent with Goodyear's decision to eliminate unprofitable or low-margin businesses.

Goodyear shares fell 45 cents to close at $6.19 on Monday on the New York Stock Exchange. Earlier in the session, the stock hit a low of $6.02.



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