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US Construction Shows No Signs of Slowdown, Caterpillar CEO Says

Original source: Yahoo Finance

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(Bloomberg) -- Construction activity isn’t showing any signs of slowing down across North America this year, Caterpillar Inc.’s top executive said on the sidelines of the industry’s largest conference.

Even as some worry building demand could start to slow, especially if the US dips into a recession or if the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank infects other sectors, Caterpillar’s customers are still seeing new projects coming in, Chief Executive Officer Jim Umpleby said. And their outlook is pretty unanimous: That strength will last through at least the end of 2023.

“The input we’re receiving from our construction customers in North America is quite good,” Umpleby said in an interview at ConExpo in Las Vegas, the largest construction convention in North America. “They see projects coming either from an infrastructure perspective or some of it’s government funded, some of it’s other, but they’re feeling quite good about what they see.”

The company’s buyers typically won’t discuss the demand outlook for more than six months out, making their conversations at the event over the past two days particularly interesting, said Tony Fassino, the company’s head of construction industries. He added these customers are seeing strong activity for so-called “big dirt jobs,” such as new battery and chip plants.

When asked whether he believes the US could enter a recession while construction is so strong, Umpleby said it could happen but noted he’s not making a prediction about the economy.

The comments come as uncertainty grips investors worried that rising interest rates could quash broader economic growth in the nation. Adding to economic concerns this past week was the sudden failure of Silicon Valley Bank and other regional lenders. There have also been concerns among heavy-industry investors that a strong first half of the year could be followed by a contraction in construction in the back half.

“We expect 2023 to be better on both the top and bottom line,” Umpleby said. “That’s still our view.”

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