Caterpillar machinery sales down 9 pct in April, led by Asia

CHICAGO Mon May 20, 2013 2:10pm EDT

CHICAGO May 20 (Reuters) - Caterpillar Inc said on Monday that retail demand for its construction and mining equipment continued to be sluggish in April, though the sales picture appeared to be improving in almost every market outside North America.

The Peoria, Illinois-based company said worldwide dealer sales of its earth-moving machines fell 9 percent in April from the prior year.

That represented an improvement from March, when sales were down 11 percent, and February, when sales were down 13 percent.

The worldwide decline was led by continued weakness in Asia, where dealer sales were down 20 percent in April, compared with a decline of 24 percent in March and a decline of 26 percent in February.

North America took a turn for the worse in April, with sales falling 18 percent, compared with a drop of 11 percent in March and 12 percent in February.

Latin America continued to be a bright spot for Caterpillar. Dealer sales of machines in that market were up 28 percent in April, compared with a rise of 12 percent in March and a rise of 3 percent in February.

In afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Caterpillar shares were up about 0.4 percent at $88.05.

Caterpillar's monthly sales figures are based on unaudited reports provided to the company by its network of independent dealers.

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