Orders for U.S. durable goods increase on aircraft demand

Caterpillar Forecast

Caterpillar Inc., the biggest maker of construction and mining equipment, cut its 2013 sales and profit forecast this week after a slump in orders from commodity producers.

“There are encouraging signs, but there is also a good deal of uncertainty worldwide as we look ahead to 2014,” Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Doug Oberhelman said in a statement.

Today’s report showed bookings for commercial aircraft increased 57.5% in September after a 5.4% gain. Chicago-based Boeing Co. said it received 127 aircraft orders in September, up from 16 the previous month.

Orders for military aircraft and parts rose 15.2% after an 11.5% decrease, today’s report showed.

Demand for motor vehicles has also been a bright spot for manufacturers, with cars and light trucks selling at a 15.2 million annualized rate in September after climbing in August to the fastest annualized pace since 2007, figures from Ward’s Automotive Group showed.

Motor Vehicles

“The vehicle fleet has aged, so really vehicle assembly has nowhere to go but up,” said Mike Englund, chief economist at Action Economics LLC in Boulder, Colorado, adding that Boeing, the world’s largest planemaker, is also looking at “a bottomless pit of orders.”

Ford earned a $2.3 billion profit in North America in the third quarter and raised its forecasts for pretax profit and operating margin for the full year. The Dearborn, Michigan-based company said yesterday its automotive sales rose 12% to $33.9 billion. It also earned a rare profit on overseas operations on rising demand for Focus compact cars in China and B-Max vans in Europe.

Benton Harbor, Michigan-based Whirlpool is also seeing signs of stronger demand in some parts of the world, while progress in the U.S. housing market boosts demand for its washers and dryers.

“In North America, we are increasing our industry demand assumption to approximately 9% for the year as we continue to see positive trends in U.S. housing,” Chief Executive Officer Jeff Fettig said on an Oct. 22 earnings call. In Latin America, “we’re now seeing a pickup in demand and we expect that positive trend to continue during the fourth quarter.”

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