CIT EquipmentFinance, a unit of CIT Group Inc., announced the results of the 29th annual CITConstruction Industry Forecast. The 2005 outlook indicates that U.S.construction industry leaders are predicting a strong year ahead as theirconfidence hit an all-time high. Of nine U.S. regions surveyed, six showed anincrease in optimism. CIT Equipment Finance is one of North America’s leadingproviders of financial services to the construction industry.

“In lastyear’s CIT Construction Industry Forecast, U.S. construction industry executivestold us that they could see the light at the end of the tunnel after severalyears of economic uncertainty,” said Roy Keller, president of CIT EquipmentFinance. “This year, it looks like the industry has made its way out of thetunnel altogether and the forecast is brighter than at any time in the lastdecade.”

Now in its 29th year, the CIT Construction Industry Forecastindependently surveys U.S. construction executives on their perceptions of thestate of the industry and trends for the coming year. More than 900 contractorsand equipment distributors were surveyed via telephone interviews across theUnited States.

The Optimism Quotient (OQ) is the Forecast’s primaryindicator for assessing and comparing the respondents’ level of confidence inthe health of the construction industry. The OQ is a weighted and averagednumber that expresses construction executives’ perceptions of the industry’sprospects for the coming year. Generally, a number of 100 or higher indicatesstrong optimism in the industry’s one-year outlook while a number below 100indicates a more cautious projection.

The 2004 Construction IndustryForecast’s overall optimism quotient rose six points — from last year’s 103 to109 —the highest-ever rating since the OQ was developed in 1995. The OQ forcontractors dipped one point and it rose 13 points for distributors.

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