Caterpillar Inc., the world's largest maker of bulldozers, said first-quarter profit rose 13 percent, beating estimates and citied stronger sales in Asia and in North America. Shares jumped as much as 8 percent during trade.

The Peoria, Illinois-based company said sales increased 18 percent to $11.8 billion, topping analysts' predictions helped lift the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

The stock was recently up $6.17 at $84.76, providing momentum to the broader market. Shares have risen more than 13 percent since the beginning of the year.

Even though we're currently weathering a recessionary storm in the United States, we expect the rest of the world to continue to invest in infrastructure growth well into the next decade, Chairman and CEO Jim Owens said in a statement.

Net income increased to $922 million or $1.45 a share, from $816 million, or $1.23.

International sales accounted for 58 percent of total revenue. North American sales climbed 4 percent to $4.9 billion, trailing behind the Asia-Pacific region's 37 percent growth to $1.85 billion. Revenue from Europe, Africa and the Middle East rose 30 percent to $3.81 billion, while Latin America gained 24 percent to $1.23 billion.

Even though North America, our largest geographic market, is depressed, we are investing for growth, Chairman and CEO Jim Owens said. We are significantly increasing capital expenditures for improved productivity and higher capacity, and our research and development is focused on sustainability and innovative new products.

Sales of machines and engines saw an 18 percent climb to $11 billion in the first quarter, while revenue from financial services rose by the same percentage to $817 million.

The company's worldwide employment was 102,623 in first quarter 2008, up 7,289 from 95,334 in first quarter 2007.