Hit by shrinking demand, Praxair ( PX) reported a 6% decline in first-quarter earnings from a year ago, in line with Wall Street estimates. The Danbury, Conn., industrial-gas maker had earnings of $290 million, or 93 cents per share, for the quarter, down from $307 million, or 96 cents a share, a year ago. Revenue, meanwhile, dropped 20% to $2.12 billion from $2.66 billion. Analysts were looking for a 92-cent profit on revenue of $2.38 billion. Praxair's CEO, Steve Angel, said in a statement that while weak sales continued from the fourth quarter into the first, he believes that demand has now bottomed out and "stabilized," at 12% below the company's sales levels at the same time in 2008. Looking ahead, the company said it expects to report second-quarter earnings of 95 cents to $1.00 a share, which assumes a negative currency impact based on current exchange rates. According to a Thomson Reuters poll, analysts were expecting a second-quarter EPS of $1.00. Praxair shares inched higher Wednesday, closing at $71.65, up 18 cents, or 0.25%.