Printed circuit board (PCB) sales and order growth remained slow in September 2013 and the book-to-bill ratio slipped below parity to 0.98, according to IPC -- Association Connecting Electronics Industries.
Total North American PCB shipments were down 0.7% in September 2013 from September 2012. Year-to-date shipment growth is still negative compared to the same period in 2012, but is improving and reached -3.5% in September.
North American PCB bookings were up 3.1% year over year, an improvement that brought year-to-date growth to -0.6%.
Year-to-date PCB bookings have been generally flat during the second and third quarters of 2013.
Month-to-month growth in PCB shipments and bookings was positive in September, which the organizations said reflects normal seasonal patterns.
PCB shipments in September were up 9.7% over August 2013 and bookings were up 6.5% over August 2013.
The group said North American PCB book-to-bill ratios had a strong run of positive results in the first seven months of 2013, driven by solid order growth. Orders weakened during the summer months, which put downward pressure on the book-to-bill ratio.
"A combination of slower order growth and shipments that exceeded bookings in August and September brought the book-to-bill ratio below parity to 0.98," said IPC's director of market research Sharon Starr. "Although year-on-year shipment growth in the North American PCB industry is still negative, it has been moving in the right direction. The recovery we expected to see in late 2013 has been dampened by the industry's expectation of slower economic growth in the fourth quarter due to the government shutdown."
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