The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES:^DJI) was down 19 points in late trading after two Ukrainian fighter jets were shot down over a rebel-controlled region of the nation, less than a week after the downing of a passenger airliner in the area.

Markets have thus far brushed off rising tensions between the West and Russia, which has backed Ukrainian separatists, but that may not last long the way things are going.

In market news today, there were some concerning numbers out of Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), which has fallen off its pedestal as Dow leader in 2014 and was down 1.4% today.

Bad numbers from Caterpillar
Every month, Caterpillar reports industry and regional sales numbers over the past three months of operations. As a supplier of heavy equipment, the company can often offer an indication of where capital spending is headed around the world and where companies and countries are expecting growth.

That ability to peek into the future is why the numbers out of Asia-Pacific and even Europe, Africa, and the Middle East, or EAME, are so startling. Below are the retail sales growth figures for Caterpillar's two main industrial segments and three major regions for the three months ending in June.  


Resource Industries

Construction Industries

North America









Source: Caterpillar.

You can see that Asia-Pacific demand is dropping like a rock, which continues a trend we've seen all year. Resource industry sales have been down over 50% for every three-month period in 2014, and EAME sales have been trending lower as well (for year-to-date details, click here).

Cat Image Tmf

Fewer sales of equipment like this could mean slower growth in Asia. Source: Caterpillar.

A warning for investors
Why is this bad for the market as a whole? If capital spending is falling in emerging markets, less money is being invested in future growth. That's a problem because these regions have been among the few bright spots over the past seven years, and now it appears that the tide has turned and North America is the most stable and highest-growth market.

Keep an eye on growth in China, particularly as we go through earnings season. Reduced investments in resources and construction in the region could suggest a slowdown in the making, and that could do more to negatively impact the market than tensions with Russia.

Could this be impacting China's growth?
"Made in China" -- an all too familiar phrase. But not for much longer: There's a radical new technology out there, one that's already being employed by the U.S. Air Force, BMW and even Nike. Respected publications like The Economist have compared this disruptive invention to the steam engine and the printing press; Business Insider calls it "the next trillion dollar industry." Watch The Motley Fool's shocking video presentation to learn about the next great wave of technological innovation, one that will bring an end to "Made In China" for good. Click here!

Travis Hoium has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Compare Brokers