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    Marathon Profits Rise

    Third-quarter earnings rocket 60 percent on gasoline sales.

    ENON, Ohio

    USX-Marathon Group, the energy unit of USX Corp., reported third-quarter profits rose 60 percent as robust refining and marketing results offset lower oil and natural gas prices.

    Earnings from Marathon's downstream unit -- its refining, marketing and transportation operations -- almost doubled, to $575 million from $299 million, as higher production and sales margins offset lower gasoline and distillate sales and higher expenses. The company operates more than 2,500 convenience stores in the United States.

    Marathon said net income rose to $193 million from $121 million a year earlier. Included in the latest quarter is a $126 million after-tax loss related to the sale of Marathon's heavy oil assets in Canada, part of its strategy to focus on Canadian natural gas assets.

    After adjustments for special items, Marathon earned $319 million compared with $356 million a year earlier.

    Results from Marathon's worldwide upstream units -- its exploration and production operations -- fell by 44 percent, to $259 million from $465 million, primarily on substantially lower oil and gas prices in the United States.

    USX plans to separate its USX-Marathon from USX-Steel by breaking up the tracking stock structure. The proposed separation is subject to approval by stockholders on Oct. 25.

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