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GE Profits Up, Consumer Confidence Falls

Investors got a mixed bag of U.S. economic information on Friday.

The huge General Electric corporation reported an 18 percent increase in profits in the last three months of 2004.

GE officials say strong industrial sales along with an "excellent" global economy helped them make nearly $5.4 billion during the period.

Measured by its value on the stock market, GE is the biggest U.S. corporation.

Researchers say U.S. consumers have a different view of the economy. On Friday the University of Michigan said its index of consumer confidence declined 1.3 percent in early January, to a reading of 95.8.

Experts track consumer confidence for hints about future consumer spending, which drives much of the economic activity in the United States.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.