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World chip sales static through April

Up on last year, not on last month

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World semiconductor sales remained static during April, according to the latest sales figures released by the Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA).

The headline-grabbing statistic is that April's sales were up 9.7 per cent on the same month last year, but with April 2003 seeing sales worth $12.1 billion, exactly the same figure as March, down slightly on January's $12.2 billion and up slightly on February's $11.8 billion (a shorter trading month), there's little to suggest that the market is picking up.

The SIA's spin is that all the usual global economic factors, and SARS of course, have persuaded buyers to defer purchases they would have made in April to later months. Corporate PC buyers in particular continue to be unwilling to invest in new machines sooner rather than later. That ties in with the organisation's forecast that the second half of the year will bring the industry significant growth.

On the basis of April's figures the increase won't come from PCs. Microprocessor sales fell 1.3 per cent in April. DRAM sales were down 5.1 per cent. Flash sales were up - just - at under one per cent. DSP sales dipped 9.8 per cent on the back of declining cellphone sales in China, the largest unsaturated handset market, as SARS kept consumers out of shopping centres.

One sector showing healthy growth was the market for communications ASICs, up six per cent. Optoelectronic chip sales grow 2.5 per cent.

The best news for the industry, however, is that inventories have fallen to target levels or even dipped below them, the SIA said. That means when demand does increase, it will directly affect chip companies' bottom lines. ®

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