Global orders for Japanese semiconductor manufacturing equipment jumped 171 percent in November from a year earlier to Y151.14 billion (approx. U.S. $1.4 billion), the highest level since December 2000, according to the Semiconductor Equipment Association (SEA) of Japan. It was the sixth consecutive month of on-year gains, and orders have now topped the Y100 billion (approx. U.S. $935 million) threshold for 4 months in a row, the Association said.
The data shows the industry outlook is upbeat due to brisk sales of personal computers, mobile phones, as well as digital consumer electronics products such as DVD recorders, digital cameras, and flat-screen televisions. The November orders also represent a 4.0 percent rise from Y145.31 billion (approx. U.S. $1.35 billion) marked in October.
Reflecting solid gains in orders in recent months, the book-to-bill ratio, measuring the amount of new orders versus the amount of actual products shipped for Japanese equipment, computed as a 3-month moving average, came to 1.44 in November, exceeding the key 1.00-mark for 7 months straight, according to SEA. A ratio of above 1.00 means new orders outpaced shipments, implying a good business outlook.
November orders for chip-making equipment from both Japanese and foreign companies surged 181 percent from a year ago to Y67.92 billion (approx. U.S. $635 million). Worldwide sales of Japanese-made semiconductor production equipment gained 72 percent on-year in November to Y92.23 billion (approx. U.S. $862 million). Five Japanese makers, including Tokyo Electron Ltd., Nikon Corp., and Canon Inc., ranked among the world's top 10 in sales of chip production equipment in 2002. (Dow Jones)
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