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PEORIA, Ill. (


) --


(CAT) - Get Caterpillar Inc. Report

continues to put up good numbers: worldwide equipment sales jumped 49% in January, the company said in its monthly "dealer stats" update.

The numbers come after the

future Caterpillar unit


( BUCY) reported

strong results

after the close Thursday, saying its backlog of mining-machine orders had grown to nearly $3 billion as of the end of the fourth quarter.

Caterpillar shares were rising 1.6% Friday to $104.96 -- yet another 52-week high, and their loftiest point of all time.

In a filing with the

Securities and Exchange Commission

Friday, Caterpillar said North American equipment sales continued to grow the fastest of all its regional segments, though that growth has come off an extremely low base.

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Retail machine sales on this continent rose 58% in January. The growth in Asia, by comparison, was 38%, while Latin America and Europe each saw a 46% rise year-over-year in January.

Caterpillar's Asian business, dominated by China, has experienced slowing growth over the last few months. A raging construction boom in the People's Republic has given rise to well-documented efforts by Chinese economic authorities to dampen the country's supercharged growth for fear of asset bubbles and inflation.

Overall, the multinational's machine sales have been growing at a steady 50%-ish clip over the last four months.

Caterpillar doesn't break down the percentage figures by machine type. The company's two main segments, construction and mining, are both included. Industry observers say that Caterpillar's recent growth numbers have largely been driven by mining gear sales as mineral extractors around the world pursue aggressive mine-expansion plans in order to take advantage of rising commodities prices. Similarly, Caterpillar's agricultural gear has also benefited -- much like its cross-state rival


(DE) - Get Deere & Company Report

, which

reported standout results this week.

There have been few signs of a recovery in the construction business. Crane-makers


(TEX) - Get Terex Corporation Report



(MTW) - Get Manitowoc Company, Inc. Report

both had

mixed outlooks

, and continued to

lose money

in the fourth quarter of 2010.

Caterpillar never comments on the numbers, or "dealer stats," as it calls them, which are percentage comparisons rather than actual dollar figures, broken down by region and segment. The data represents retail sales of Caterpillar machines, rather than factory sales.

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York


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