General Electric Co expects conditions in most of its core markets to remain challenging for the next 12 to 18 months, a top executive of the largest U.S. conglomerate said on Tuesday.

We have seen some indications in some markets that there is either a lessening of the decline or some flattening out, said John Rice, who heads GE's technology infrastructure division. In general, I don't think the picture is much different from the one we talked about at the end of the second quarter. The good news is it's no worse.

The Fairfield, Connecticut-based company has stopped giving specific per-share profit forecasts, instead providing investors with a framework of how it expects individual businesses to perform.

Rice did not speak specifically about the current framework, which calls for GE's technology and energy infrastructure divisions, plus NBC Universal, collectively to record earnings that roughly match last year's level. The framework calls for the GE Capital finance arm to be in the black.

(Reporting by Scott Malone, editing by Leslie Gevirtz)