MODEST GROWTH FORECAST FOR HAND-HELD GASOLINE-POWERED EQUIPMENT

According to the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI), shipments of hand-held gasoline powered trimmers, chain saws and hand-held blowers are forecast to post moderate gains during 2005 and 2006. Backpack blower shipments are forecast to decline slightly over the next couple of years, following strong growth from 2002 to 2004.

Factors to explain the expected slow period for consumer products in 2005 include a huge federal budget deficit, $50 plus for a barrel of oil, a gradual run up in interest rates and an expected slow down in the new and existing home markets.

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For 2005, a 1.8-percent increase over 2004 is expected for all forecasted gasoline powered hand-held products combined — hand-held blowers, backpack blowers, trimmers and chain saws. The following year, growth will increase to 2.4 percent over 2005, with total shipments for 2006 totaling about 12.2 million units for these products. Gasoline-powered backpack blowers will be the only product to experience shipment declines for 2005 and 2006.

OPEI's Economic Forecast is prepared by Association Research Inc., based on the national economic outlook prepared by the Re-search Seminar in Quantitative Economics at the University of Michigan.

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