The latest flash report from the Association of Equipment Manufacturers points to continued downward demand for agricultural equipment in June, but some industry analysts say the figures are not as bad as demand for construction equipment.
According to the AEM report, total U.S. farm tractor sales were down 22 percent year to date through June, compared with the same period a year earlier. But sales of four-wheel drive tractors actually increased 5.7 percent and sales of self-propelled combines were up 29 percent so far this year compared to 2008.
By one measure, the demand from agricultural equipment manufacturers for steel, farm equipment demand is at a much better level today than for construction equipment, which has been far more devastated by the housing crisis, according to Metal Center News.
Other economic indicators show that manufacturing could be starting to improve. New orders for manufactured durable goods in June increased 1.1 percent when excluding aircraft and cars.
Analysts said a drop in inventories of manufactured durable goods in June, which have fallen for six consecutive months, could be a positive sign for the economy because falling inventories mean new orders will spur an increase in manufacturing.