CAT's Machine Sales Down 48 Percent

PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Caterpillar Inc.'s global machinery sales tumbled 48 percent in August, the 11th-consecutive month of declines, as the weak global economy battered demand for its bulldozers, mining trucks and other equipment.

The August retail sales drop was led by North America, where sales plummeted 57 percent compared with the same month a year earlier, according to a regulatory filing Monday.

Caterpillar, the world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment, has faced slumping demand for its products since the global economy deteriorated late last year. It has responded by laying off thousands of workers and scaling back production.

The company's sales in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, meanwhile, sank 50 percent in August. Sales dropped 37 percent in Latin America -- compared with 28 percent in July -- 33 percent in the Asia-Pacific region and 42 percent in the world outside North America.

Caterpillar's global machinery sales have fallen every month year-over-year since Sept. 2008, when the rose 1 percent, according to earlier regulatory filings.

Products made by the Peoria, Ill.-based company include yellow-and-black machines such as excavators and tractors, used to build highways and buildings, and pipelayers used to build oil and gas pipelines. It also produces engines and turbines and operates a finance unit.

Sales of Caterpillar's marine engines grew 13 percent in August -- the only product line that saw sales growth during the month.

In July, the company reported a 66 percent drop in second-quarter earnings, citing dwindling sales and the cost of job cuts. But it said the global economy may be starting to stabilize and raised its annual outlook.

Shares of Caterpillar slid 73 cents to $52.68 in afternoon trading.

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