February 28, 2008 / 8:01 AM / 12 years ago

Japan Jan chip gear bookings fall 52 pct to 4-yr low

TOKYO, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Orders for Japanese semiconductor-making equipment plunged in January to a four-year low as price falls dented memory makers’ investment plans, an industry group said on Thursday.

Orders fell 51.9 percent from the same month a year earlier to 105.80 billion yen ($995 million), with orders for wafer processors and chip testers leading the drop, the Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan said.

The drop, to the lowest level since November 2003, underlines the failure of Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) Vista operating software, launched in January 2007, to spur new demand.

Makers of dynamic random-access memory are cutting back spending amid a supply glut, while computer processor makers such as Intel Corp (INTC.O) and Advanced Micro Devices Inc AMD.N have failed to take up the slack.

Orders translate into sales after one to 12 months.

Japan, the world’s largest market for chip-producing tools, is home to such microchip equipment makers as Advantest Corp (6857.T), Tokyo Electron Ltd (8035.T), Disco Corp (6146.T), Dainippon Screen Manufacturing Co Ltd (7735.T), Nikon Corp (7731.T), Canon Inc (7751.T) and Yokogawa Electric Corp (6841.T). (Reporting by Mayumi Negishi)

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