May 18, 2009 / 8:20 PM / 9 years ago

Applied Materials says U.S. economy still declining

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Applied Materials Inc (AMAT.O) Chief Executive Mike Splinter said on Monday the U.S. economic decline has slowed but is not over, calling recent optimism about the economy unjustified.

“Perhaps the United States is bottoming out, but my view is the decline is slowing, but that’s about it,” Splinter said in a presentation at the J.P Morgan Global Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in Boston. “People are talking more optimistically in the United States than I think the economy would warrant.”

Splinter’s comments join a lively debate among technology companies on whether the U.S. economy has indeed bottomed out.

    Last month, the chief executive of chipmaker Intel Corp (INTC.O) said he believed the PC market had hit bottom, but executives of rival Advanced Micro Devices Inc AMD.N and software giant Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) said shortly after that there was no evidence the worst was behind the sector.

    The back-to-school shopping season will be an important indicator of consumer willingness to spend on electronic gear, Splinter said, adding he did not expect to see a pickup from last year.

    Worldwide, Splinter said he had seen signs of improvement in the Chinese economy as government incentives stimulated consumer spending on mobile phones and televisions.

    “After that, I have a tough time getting excited about any economies,” Splinter said. “Europe and Japan are still deteriorating.”

    Reporting by Nichola Groom; Editing by Andre Grenon

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