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There were some bright spots during the quarter. Profits rose in GE's energy unit that makes products like power plant turbines and gas pipeline equipment. GE is currently filling a $3 billion order from Iraq for gas turbines and expects to see its business making wind energy turbines pick up soon as governments start spending more on clean energy stimulus projects. Revenues also rose sharply in markets like China and India.
GE has already met its goal of raising $45 billion from debt sales this year and pre-funded a third of its planned debt issuance for next year. That's an indication that credit markets may be regaining some of their vigor.
The company has also been shrinking its size and cutting costs -- it trimmed costs by $3 billion during the quarter, moves that helped temper the effect of lower revenues.