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Benchmark crude for November delivery fell 52 cents to settle at $79.09 on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Earlier in the day, a barrel ran as high as $80.05 as the euro came close to trading for $1.50.

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Caterpillar 3Q profit drops 53 pct, sees recovery

Caterpillar is counting on Asian customers to buy more of its mining and construction equipment next year, helping the company move beyond a recession that slammed its third-quarter earnings.

Deliveries of the company's yellow-and-black machinery rose in China, one of the company's rare wins last quarter. The Peoria, Ill., manufacturer, which generates nearly 70 percent of its sales overseas, wants its dealers prepared if that rebound speeds up.

CEO Jim Owens cautioned that the world economy still faces significant challenges and that 2010 will be difficult.

Those challenges have dogged the world's largest maker of construction and mining equipment. Global machinery sales fell 48 percent in August, the 11th-straight month of declines. Dealers supplied customers by dipping into stockpiles rather than placing new orders.

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