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Improved chip sales cap down year

A fourth-quarter surge in chip sales in Asian markets and increasing PC demand cap a year that wasn't as bad as some feared in the semiconductor industry.

A fourth-quarter surge in chip sales in recovering Asian markets and increasing personal computer demand led the semiconductor industry to a better-than-expected year, the Semiconductor Industry Association reported today.

"Asia-Pacific's sales in December are up 2.4 percent from December 1997, when the financial crisis had not yet taken effect," said SIA President George Scalise in a statement. "This stabilization bodes well for favorable sales in 1999."

While sales beat expectations, statistics still reflect the hard times the chip industry has been going through. December was up, but as a whole 1998 was down. The total 1998 worldwide sales of $125.6 billion were a decline of 8.4 percent from 1997 sales, albeit a less severe decline than the 10 percent that was projected.

Chip revenues worldwide hit $11.3 billion in December, bringing 1998's total to $125.6 billion. Sales for the fourth quarter of 1998 increased 10.5 percent over the third quarter.

December sales in Japan declined 8.3 percent--a drop, but not as dramatic as the 30 percent drop in August.

American markets also went down 4 percent from December 1997 to 1998, but European sales increased 5 percent.