Caterpillar has today reported a better-than-feared 70% fall in second-quarter earnings as the pandemic made customers wary of big purchases. 

The heavy equipment maker's profit of 84 cents per share topped the 68 cents per share expected by analysts, Refinitiv Eikon data showed. 

Revenue fell 31% to $10 billion with sales declining across all regions and in its three primary segments of construction, mining, and energy and transportation. 

The manufacturer, a bellwether for economic activity, said its financial results would be impacted by continued global economic uncertainty. 

As a result, it declined to reinstate its earnings guidance which was withdrawn in late March. Share repurchases will also remain suspended this year. 

However, it paid shareholders $600m in dividends. 

Caterpillar's earnings come a day after the US economy reported its deepest contraction since the Great Depression. 

The world's largest economy shrank at a 32.9% annualised rate last quarter with a 37.7% plunge in spending on equipment. 

A resurgence in new coronavirus cases has also dimmed the outlook for the current quarter. 

There is not much to cheer outside the US, either, as the International Monetary Fund now expects deeper contraction in global output this year. 

With lower demand oil prices have also fallen, hitting spending on non-residential building such as mines and wells. 

Retail machine sales fell 23% in the three months to June 30, Caterpillar said. 

It expects equipment demand to remain weak and has raised its estimates for reductions in dealer inventories to more than $2 billion this year from $1.5 billion estimated earlier.

Caterpillar said it is cutting costs and prioritizing investment in its services business which is expected to hold up better than equipment demand in the downturn.