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Transport Activity Shows Some Increase



The U.S. economy improved modestly from October through mid-November as consumer spending rose in most areas and transportation activity showed some signs of improvement, the Federal Reserve said Wednesday.

Transportation sector improvement was cited in four of the Fed's 12 districts - the Chicago, St. Louis, Cleveland, and Kansas City regions - the Fed said in its latest "beige book" report, released eight times a year.

Cleveland district freight executives reported little change in shipping volume, though two said they plan to purchase replacement equipment during the next 12 months.

"We're seeing some green sprigs out there; we just don't know yet if it's grass or weeds," one Richmond region transportation official said in the report.

Expectations for future factory activity were generally optimistic in the Kansas City area, with the transportation sector boosting its sales and capital spending.

One contact said a reduction in the number of competing carriers has allowed some trucking companies to maintain their freight volume despite lower overall demand, the report said.

The report, prepared by the New York Fed, was based on information collected from Oct. 13 though Nov. 20.

Mass Turnpike Comes to an End



BOSTON (AP) The Massachusetts Turnpike Authority is coming to the end of the road.

The much-reviled state agency is being eliminated on Nov. 1.

Its operations will be shifted over to a new highway department under a new Massachusetts Department of Transportation (Mass DOT).

It will be overseen by the state's new transportation secretary, Jeffrey Mullan, and a new board of directors that also oversees an array of other state transportation services.

Commuters have long complained that the Pike and its tolls have outlived the original bonds that built the east-west road from Stockbridge to Boston. The tolls will remain, but the agency itself will be gone at the end of the month.

CAT Acquires S. Korean Manufacturer



PEORIA, Illinois (AP) Caterpillar Inc. said Nov. 30 it plans to buy a subsidiary of a South Korean manufacturer of components for earthmoving and other machinery.

The world's largest maker of mining and construction equipment said it will acquire JCS Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of Jinsung T.E.C. Co. Terms were not disclosed.

The acquisition builds on a relationship between CAT, based in Peoria, Ill., and Jinsung T.E.C., which supplies Caterpillar with equipment for its machines.

The deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, is expected to be completed early next year.

Jinsung T.E.C. Co. Ltd. specializes in the design and manufacture of heavy equipment spare parts, including track rollers, seal groups and front idlers for excavators and bulldozers.

The transaction will give Caterpillar its first factory in South Korea. CAT already has plants in China, India, Indonesia and Australia.

Caterpillar has made significant investments in the Asia Pacific region to support a growing base of customers, said David Bozeman, CAT vice president with responsibility for undercarriage production.

"This strategic acquisition will improve Caterpillar's supply chain and component capacity in support of Caterpillar's long-term machine capacity expansion plans in Asia," he said. Rich Lavin, CAT group president with responsibility for Asia Pacific, said South Korea is an increasingly important market for Caterpillar products and as a potential site for manufacturing in the region.

This year, Caterpillar has laid off more than 22,000 workers as it dramatically scaled back production due to weaker demand due to the recession.

Caterpillar has said it is counting on Asian customers to buy more of its mining and construction equipment next year to help the company move beyond the recession.

In the third quarter reported in October, Caterpillar's Asia and Pacific region saw the smallest sales decline, with machine deliveries in Asia's emerging markets showing signs of recovery from recession lows.

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