Caterpillar sales down again, almost three straight years

Caterpillar sales down again, almost three straight years

The biggest declines in sales were in construction in Latin America (-41%) and in the resources industry in Asia (-37%).

Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), the world’s No.1 heavy machinery maker, put another nail in the mining industry’s coffin after reporting that its sales declined again in October, marking the 35th straight month of sustained drops.

The Peoria-based firm’s performance is often seen as a gauge of the health of the global economy, as its machines are huge, expensive, and used in different kinds of projects to which companies and governments are only likely to commit if they're confident in the economic outlook and their financial standing.

By that measure, things aren’t looking too good. As reported Thursday, the company’s total sales fell by 16% in October, the largest monthly drop since February 2010. Latin America and Asia were the two markets were sales tumbled the most, 41% and 37% respectively, mainly related to construction and mining equipment.

Sales are down more than $15 billion from its peak just four years ago and Caterpillar expects another 5% decline in 2016.