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U.S. chip maker slump hits Far East

Shares of Japanese and Taiwanese chip manufacturers dropped in response to the sluggish U.S. semiconductor industry.

The U.S. semiconductor industry's lackluster performance is having repercussions across the Pacific.

Shares of both Japanese and Taiwanese manufacturers fell today in response to a worse-than-expected U.S. book-to-bill ratio for April.

Shares in Taiwan's top two chip makers dropped as much as 9 cents, while in Japan shares of NEC, Toshiba, Hitachi, Mitsubishi, and Fujitsu all dropped, according to Bloomberg wire reports.

The book-to-bill ratio, which represents the proportion of orders to shipments, has run below the break-even point in the U.S. since January. April's rating of 0.78--down from 0.79 in March--is the lowest since the Semiconductor Industry Association began monthly measurements in 1987.

The drop may be slowing, however. The ratio had dropped much faster over the winter when the ratio fell from 1.12 in December to 0.79 in March.