* Caterpillar, Komatsu, Sany post strong China Q1
* Industry sales to rise 21 pct vs 1 pct rise in
* Fast growth in H1 on gov support, slower in H2 - execs
SHANGHAI, April 28 (Reuters) - Chinese demand for trucks,
cranes and diggers is gaining momentum after bottoming out last
year, driven by a Beijing-backed infrastructure push, a housing
boom and increased investment linked to China's modern-day "Silk
Chinese and global machinery makers, including Caterpillar
Inc, Japan's Komatsu Ltd and Sany Heavy
Industry, posted strong profits this week for the
first quarter of the year, citing growing strength in the
Chinese market after years of decline.
The performance was boosted by China's faster-than-expected
economic growth of 6.9 percent in the first quarter, the fastest
pace in six quarters. Economists say Chinese policymakers have
leaned on property investment and infrastructure spending,
including their plan to build a modern "Silk Road" trading
route, to help support the economy.
"The strong demand in China resulted in a reduction in
Asia-Pacific dealer inventory, as demand outpaced our sales to
dealers," Caterpillar Chief Financial Officer Bradley Halverson
told analysts this week.
"If policy remains supportive we expect strong market
conditions in China to continue at least through mid-year," he
added. The U.S.-listed firm posted stronger-than-expected first
quarter sales on Tuesday.
Sales of construction equipment, including dump trucks,
excavators and mobile cranes, are set to shoot ahead by 21
percent this year after a slight 1 percent increase last year
and 42 percent slump in 2015, forecasts by industry consultant
Off-Highway Research, show.
Industry revenues peaked in 2011 at $35 billion and then
fell as activity slowed down.
Investors have been looking hard for signs of a broader
economic revival. A team at BlackRock Inc started
picking up increased signs of building activity on the ground in
China in the second half of last year by using satellite
FAST START, SLOW FINISH
Revenues at Zoomlion jumped 74.5
percent in the first quarter, its fastest quarterly growth since
the start of 2011. Net profit hit 18.6 million yuan, swinging
from a 660 million yuan loss a year earlier.
Sany Heavy Industry Co Ltd said on Thursday net
profit for the first quarter rose 727 percent to 745.7 million
yuan. Sales increased almost 80 percent.
Executives and analysts, however, cautioned that the upturn
would likely lose pace in the second half of the year as
measures to rein in a hot property market take greater effect
and there is also no clear policy certainty longer term.
"In China there is the Communist Party Congress in the
autumn, so after that there is some uncertainty about policy,"
said Mikio Fujitsuka, executive vice president and chief
financial officer of Komatsu Ltd.
Komatsu has forecast a drop in operating profit this year,
but said it had seen signs of improvement in China.
"We think the first half of the year should be fine but are
more cautious about the second half of the year."
Shi Yang, a consultant at Off-Highway Research, said the
year would be divided by a fast start and a slower second half,
and that there were even signs of a bubble.
"Since the third quarter of last year til now, the recovery
has been pretty strong - but it has its limits," he said.
"The big peaks we saw before are certainly behind us and
there are some signs of overheating. In fact, already the market
has started to slow."
(Reporting by Adam Jourdan; Additional reporting by Maki
Shiraki in TOKYO, Brenda Goh in SHANGHAI and SHANGHAI newsroom;
Editing by Neil Fullick)