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Analysts have predicted a poor start to 2001 for the PC market suggesting that the sector maybe stuck in the doldrums until the second half of the year.

In the US, ING Barings forecast full year growth of 10 per cent, a view that met with little dissent on this side of the pond.

IDC analyst Andrew Brown commented: "At IDC we are in discussions about our forecast for 2001' growth at the moment, but we will be revising our prediction down. We still expect double digit growth, but nothing more than 15 per cent."

The main driving force in the market would be the notebook sector, while sales of desktop machines would depend mostly on the corporate market's spending plans. "People are willing to spend a little extra money for the benefits of mobility," Brown added.

"The move to mobility is really starting to happen now. Increased competition in the LCD flat panel manufacturing market will drive prices of notebooks way down during the year, proving something of a boost."

Robert Cihra, an analyst at ING said that in the first quarter the market would "bottom" and that margin pressure would be a major concern for vendors. He estimated that ten per cent of Q4 shipments last year were at the expense of performance at the start of 2001.

He kept a "buy" rating on both Compaq and Dell, although Gateway stayed at "hold".

Brown said that the early indications were that January would be very bleak, but that February was looking brighter. ING predictions meanwhile would keep the champagne on ice until Q3, at least. ®

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