Economic forecasts and analysis specific to the cranes and heavy transport sector point to a cautiously optimistic outlook for 2012, according to a webinar produced in partnership between the Specialized Cranes & Rigging Association (SC&RA) and KHL Group. Click here to watch the webinar.

Speaker Chris Sleight, who is editor of International Construction magazine, pointed to the improving economic outlook, global growth in construction and improved performances by crane manufacturers as evidence of this.

Global economic output is expected to increase in 2012, led by emerging markets in Asia and Latin America. Although growth in developed markets will be lower, and could be very poor in the Euro-zone, the general forecast is still for an improvement on 2011.

Construction output around the world is expected to grow between 4% and 5% next year, again with developing Asia and Latin America leading the way. Some improvement is also expected in the US non-residential market next year, and this should feed through to companies in the lifting and heavy transport sector.

The improving health of this sector is shown by a gradual quarterly improvement in both revenues and operating margin for the world's leading crane manufacturers. However, these companies' share price performance has been poor in 2011, reflecting the uncertainty in both the Euro-zone and US over sovereign debt issues. The tentative improvement in economic activity is expected to lead to growth in crane fleets in the US in 2012, for the first time since 2009.

But although business prospects are expected to improve in 2012, there is unlikely to be any let-up in costs for specialists in the lifting and heavy transport sector. High oil process will translate to high road fuel costs and other high commodity prices are likely to lead to the same or higher capital equipment costs.

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