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UPDATE 3-Deutsche Post raises 2019 forecast after price hikes

Emma Thomasson

* Q2 sales up 3% to 15.5 bln euros vs 15.6 bln consensus

* Q2 EBIT 769 mln vs analyst consensus for 727 mln

* 2019 EBIT seen at 4-4.3 bln euros

* Shares up 4.3% at 0757 GMT (Adds details, background, analyst comment)

BERLIN, Aug 6 (Reuters) - Deutsche Post DHL said on Tuesday it expects a further improvement in earnings in the second half of 2019 due to restructuring measures and a rise in German postage and parcel prices.

The German post and logistics group reported a 3% rise in second-quarter sales to 15.5 billion euros ($17.37 billion) while operating profit rose by 2.9% to 769 million euros, topping the 727 million average forecast from analysts.

Shares in Deutsche Post were up 4.3% at 0757 GMT.

"We expect them to profit further from the ongoing e-commerce boom, price increases and internal optimisation,"

said Christian Obst, an analyst at Baader bank, who rates

the stock a "buy."

The company, which is partly state-owned, said steps taken to improve productivity and an increase in the German postage rate for letters from July 1 would help in the second half of the year, despite weak economic growth.

U.S. rival FedEx Corp warned in June that U.S.-China trade tensions and the non-renewal of its contract with Amazon.com Inc would hurt its fiscal 2020 performance.

Deutsche Post is not immune to slowing momentum in global trade due to the conflict but its broad portfolio helps, finance chief Melanie Kreis told journalists.

While letter shipments are in long-term decline, Deutsche Post has enjoyed a boom in parcel volumes thanks to the rapid growth of ecommerce.

But prices have not kept pace with costs as it has become harder to find drivers due to low unemployment and Germany has increased a toll on trucks, prompting the company to say last month it will hike parcel prices for business customers.

German regulators have agreed that Deutsche Post could increase letter prices by 10.63% in return for the company pledging to hire an extra 5,000 delivery workers.

Earnings for its German Post & Parcel (P&P) division, which accounts for almost a quarter of sales, turned positive for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2017.

That was counterbalanced by restructuring costs at its supply chain and ecommerce solutions units, the company said.

Deutsche Post said full-year operating profit should rise to between 4.0 and 4.3 billion euros, up from a previous estimate of between 3.9 billion and 4.3 billion euros, due to higher expectations for the P&P division.

It confirmed its guidance for the metric to now reach more than 5 billion euros in 2020, which the company wants to reach without one-off effects, Kreis said.

United Parcel Service Inc said last month a jump in demand for its Next Day Air service drove better-than-expected profit in the second quarter as large retailers rushed packages to online shoppers.

($1 = 0.8925 euros) (Additional reporting by Vera Eckert in Frankfurt and Matthias Inverardi in Duesseldorf; editing by Michelle Martin and Jason Neely)