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UPDATE 1-BASF operating profit down 24 percent on weaker basic chemicals

Ludwig Burger

* Guides again for slight FY profit gain, above market view

* Q1 adj EBIT 1.73 bln euros (consensus forecast: 1.75 bln) (Adds details on business performance, guidance)

MANNHEIM, Germany, May 3 (Reuters) - BASF's first-quarter operating profit dropped 24 percent as the firm's basic chemicals business was hit by lower volumes and a slump in prices for materials used in polyurethane foams.

Operating profit, or earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) adjusted for one-off items, fell to 1.73 billion euros ($1.93 billion) versus a company-provided analyst forecast of 1.75 billion.

Lower volumes and prices for basic petrochemicals made from oil distillates contributed to the decline, as did marked down prices of intermediate chemicals used in heat insulation slabs and upholstery foams.

Weakness in demand from carmakers, which began late last year, continued to weigh on BASF's automotive coatings and catalytic converters businesses.

Earnings at BASF's agricultural chemicals and seeds unit, in turn, were bolstered by assets acquired from domestic rival Bayer as well as by higher prices.

The German chemicals giant also affirmed a forecast for 2019 adjusted EBIT to grow at the lower end of a 1-10 percent range from 6.35 billion euros in 2018.

BASF had previously said that projection would depend on demand perking up during the second half, and on global trade disputes not escalating further.

Analysts have kept a more cautious stance, predicting a slight decline in full-year earnings. (Reporting by Ludwig Burger; editing by Thomas Seythal and Jason Neely)