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The book-to-bill ratio for March hit an extremely encouraging 1.21, the Semiconductor Industry Association reports from San Jose. The figure, measuring the three-month running average of new orders divided by average deliveries over the three months, compares with 1.12 in February and 1.09 in January. Average monthly orders for the three months to March totalled $910.8m, up 15.6% on the February figure. At $912.1m, US shipments for March were 34.6% up on the February figure, and 20.6% up on a year ago. Three-month average shipments to March totalled $751.3m, up 6.5% on the February figure. This is the sixth consecutive increase in the book-to-bill, and the highest since May 1984, when it was 1.27. Much of the improvement in the situation is seen as coming from increased demand from the personal computer industry – reflected in Intel’s return to profits (see below), but that was what fuelled the last semiconductor boom, and the industry plunged into recession when eager clonemakers learned the hard lesson that 50 firms can’t each take 10% of the market.

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