Ford Motor Co posted a narrower-than-expected quarterly loss on Thursday and said it was nearing a deal to spin off British luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rover.

Shares of Ford rose almost 5 percent in pre-market trading.

Ford said it expects to conclude a deal to sell Jaguar and Land Rover by early next year. By contrast, it said it would focus on improving results at its Swedish Volvo unit and start detailing the brand's financial performance next year.

Ford also forecast a substantial year-over-year improvement in fourth-quarter results compared with last year's pre-tax loss of $3.15 billion.

The Dearborn, Michigan-based automaker posted a third-quarter net loss of $380 million, or 19 cents per share, compared with a loss of $5.2 billion, or $2.79 a share, a year earlier.

Ford's loss from continuing operations, excluding one-time items, was 1 cent per share. On that basis, the average Wall Street forecast was a loss of 48 cents per share, according to Reuters Estimates.

Ford said it cut 6,800 jobs in North America during the quarter.

Third-quarter revenue totaled $41.1 billion, up from $37.1 billion a year earlier. Global auto revenue rose to $36.3 billion from $32.5 billion.

Ford, which posted a record loss of $12.6 billion in 2006, has seen margins squeezed by intense competition and rising gasoline prices. The slow U.S. housing market has also hurt sales of its profitable pickup trucks to contractors and construction crews.

Ford's U.S. sales fell 18 percent during the third quarter as it negotiated a cost-saving labor deal with the United Auto Workers union.

Ford's automotive operations posted a loss of $362 million in the third quarter, before taxes and excluding special charges. Its financial services arm posted a pre-tax profit of $556 million.

In North America, Ford posted a narrower loss of $1 billion during the quarter, before taxes and excluding special items, partly on higher pricing.

Ford last week agreed to a tentative four-year labor contract with the UAW that would help the automaker reduce labor costs by allowing it to hire new workers at lower rates and transfer retiree health-care liabilities to a trust fund.

(Reporting by Poornima Gupta; editing by John Wallace)