General Electric confirmed Friday that the nation's economic slowdown is prompting it to get out of the appliance business.

GE's Chairman and CEO Jeff Immelt says while GE Appliances has a very strong brand, it's primarily a U.S. business and that means its fortunes are tied to the rise and fall of a single market.

GE's appliance unit is primarily a domestic business and has been in a sharp decline, together with the U.S. housing market. Analysts have said the business could prove to be valuable to a foreign appliance maker who wants a greater presence in the market for when the housing market finally rebounds.

This review is consistent with the strategy we have been executing to transform our portfolio for long-term growth, Immelt said.

In the statement, the company said the decision to sell or spin off GE Appliances is part of an ongoing plan to exit slower growth and more volatile businesses.

General Electric is planning to sell, spin-off or forge a joint venture with it century-old appliance business currently valued at $7.2 billion.

On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported Fairfield, Conn.-based GE had hired Goldman Sachs to consider a sale of the unit.

GE fell 0.7 percent, or 23 cents, to $32.14 in afternoon trading in New York.

Jeff Immelt needs to gain some traction with investors after reporting a disappointing 6 percent decline in earnings in April, just weeks after he offered a positive outlook to investors over a Web-cast.