Caterpillar Inc. said Friday its machine sales worldwide jumped 11 percent in May compared with a year ago as a rebound in North American and Asian business markets helped offset declines in European sales.
Caterpillar is the world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment. Because its iconic yellow-and-black equipment is used in many different sectors all over the world, the company's sales are considered an indicator of global economic health.
In a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Thursday, the Peoria, Ill., company said May sales were up in North America and the Asia Pacific, but fell in Europe, Africa and the Middle East regions.
Economists expect manufacturing to keep growing in North America and Asia for the rest of the year, but they don't think it will be as strong as in the first six months of 2010. Also, there are concerns about how Europe's debt crisis will affect that region's recovery and global trade. If the crisis worsens, is could depress economic activity further in a key U.S. export market.
Caterpillar said North American machine sales jumped 15 percent year-over-year, while sales in Asia surged 38 percent. In the Europe, Africa and Middle East region sales fell 8 percent in May, and dipped 2 percent in Latin America.
Sales of reciprocating and turbine engines in the company's industrial segment jumped 17 percent, while those in the electric power unit rose 4 percent.
Sales of boat and ship engines were down the most of any category, at 27 percent. Sales of engines for oil and gas customers fell 20 percent.
Caterpillar shares rose 20 cents in morning trading to $65.15.
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