This according to the annual forecast of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM). Gains are expected to be strongest for U.S. markets, both in 2004 and 2005.

Construction equipment markets are expected to close out 2004 with a 16.1% gain in the U.S., a 14.3% rise in Canada, and an increase of 8.8% in the rest of the world.

For 2005, the market will still grow but at a slower pace: an 8.4% increase in the U.S., a gain of 6.6% for Canada and a 7.0% jump elsewhere.

The 2004-2005 forecast covers 68 whole machine product types and 16 types of attachments and components grouped into seven broad product segments which include earthmoving, lifting, bituminous, concrete and aggregate, light equipment, attachments and components and miscellaneous equipment.

Machinery makers cited commodity costs, most notably steel prices and availability, as a major determinant of 2005 business growth. Continued federal transportation funding is extremely important for every machinery manufacturer and was a major factor noted in the AEM outlook survey.

Equipment rentals continue to be a major determinant of construction machinery market growth, says the AEM survey. The AEM outlook highlights the value of the U.S. dollar compared to other currencies as another factor that will impact overall equipment sales.

The complete AEM outlook survey is available on the AEM Web site (www.aem.org/).