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Last Updated: Friday, 21 January, 2005, 21:48 GMT
GE sees 'excellent' world economy
GE banners
GE is putting out the flags for global growth
US behemoth General Electric has posted an 18% jump in quarterly sales, and in profits, and declared itself "in great shape".

"We are benefiting from our growth initiatives and an excellent global economy," said GE's chief executive Jeff Immelt.

GE is the US' biggest firm based on stock market valuation.

GE's net profits were $5.37bn (2.86bn) for the final three months of 2004, while sales came in at $43.7bn.

The group, whose businesses range from jet engines to the NBC television channel, forecast sustained growth at between 10-15% for this year and next.

GE's shares rose 1% on the news before ending Friday 0.24% lower.

Positive signs

"The industries GE is in are doing very well. The materials, financial and industrial sectors are all picking up," said Steve Roukis, an analyst at fund manager Matrix Asset Advisors, which has shares in GE.

GE said orders in the fourth quarter were 15% higher than in the same period of 2003, "with growth across the board".

"In the fourth quarter, nine of our 11 businesses delivered at least double-digit earnings growth," said Mr Immelt.

Full year 2004 gains were less spectacular, but still respectable. Net profit was up 6% at $16.6bn.

Last year, GE bought Vivendi Universal, merging it with NBC to form NBC Universal. The success of Universal Studio's film 'Ray', a portrait of jazz musician Ray Charles, has helped boost earnings at the unit.

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