Chip Equipment Orders Slip

Chip equipment orders declined for the third straight month in August and could slip further in coming months, an industry association said late Thursday.

Shipments declined for the first time since June 2003, SEMI reported, and the book-to-bill ratio of orders to shipments fell to 1.0, reaching parity for the first time since Sept. 2003.

“Semiconductor equipment bookings and billings for North American-based suppliers have declined slightly from peak levels in the past few months, yet remain at high levels,” said Lubab Sheet, SEMI’s research development director. “A number of recent company announcements suggest these levels may continue to soften in the coming months. However, we believe the industry is on track to exceed our overall worldwide forecast projection of $36 billion this year.”

Orders and shipments remain above $1.5 billion each. That’s double the lows of 2001-2003, but well below the 2000 peak of $2.5-$3 billion.

The news seemed to have little effect on chip and chip equipment stocks, as the sector gained 2% on Friday. The broader market rose on strong earnings news from Ford and an upgrade to GE , but gains were restrained by a sharp jump in oil prices.

The Nasdaq rose 6 to 1910, the S&P 500 climbed 5 to 1128, and the Dow rose 39 to 10,284. Volume rose to 1.44 billion shares on the NYSE, and 1.65 billion on the Nasdaq. Advancers led 17-15 on the NYSE, and by a few share on the Nasdaq. Upside volume was 60% on the NYSE, and 63% on the Nasdaq. New highs-new lows were 184-14 on the NYSE, and 138-32 on the Nasdaq.

Qualcomm fell 4% on accounting concerns.

Cisco lost 2% on a Lehman Brothers downgrade on reports of “uninspiring” sales.

California Micro soared 26% despite missing estimates. Tektronix gained 8% on its results, while 3Com was unchanged on its report.

8×8 surged 14% on VoIP deals.

ChipMOS jumped 6% on strong revenues.

Google hit a new high. The stock has been rising on reports of a large stake by Fidelity.

Texas Instruments climbed 2% on buyback plans.

Adobe edged higher ahead of its earnings report due out after the close on Monday. palmOne and Red Hat also report Monday night.

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