Market News

WASHINGTON, DC – Big industry production fell lower in September than it had since late 1974, largely as a result of hurricanes Gustav and Ike.
 
The Federal Reserve reported production at US factories, mines and utilities plunged 2.8% last month, in addition to a 1% drop in August.
 
The Fed estimated hurricane-related disruptions accounted for about 2.25 points of the total drop. In addition, a strike affecting the commercial aircraft industry also was a factor, accounting for around 50 basis points.
 
Economists originally forecast a September decline of 0.8%.
SAN FRANCISCO -- After strong shipment growth in 2008, PCs may be headed for a dip in 2009, a top Deutsche Bank analyst said today. The credit market and deteriorating macro outlook are the culprits, says Chris Whitmore.

"We expect a difficult PC environment in 2009. We estimate industry-wide PC unit growth of 6% year-over-year and flat revenue growth," Whitmore wrote in a research note today.

Both figures are declines from this year, when unit growth is forecast to be up 11.5% and revenues up 5%.

"We expect the frozen credit market and deteriorating macro outlook to translate into weakening PC demand due to the highly discretionary nature of PC upgrades in developed markets, both consumer and corporate. In addition, we expect ASP pressure to accelerate in 2009 as a result of mix, consumers trading down and incremental price competition, somewhat offset by more favorable commodity pricing."

Demand in emerging markets, which DB estimates have been responsible for roughly 70% of the industry's growth this decade, could also slow materially.

DB forecasts global GDP to grow 2% in 2009. The firm expects the lower GDP growth to show up in smaller corporate IT budgets and delayed PC upgrades. At the consumer level, higher unemployment, and reduced household wealth could tamp down demand.
SAN JOSE – Although set-top boxes have been around in one form or another for more than 30 years, the industry is far from settled, says iSuppli Corp. STBs should remain one of the most dynamic areas of the electronics industry for at least the next decade, and quite possibly beyond, according to the research firm.
 
Over the next few years, expanding box capabilities will drive much of the STB market. For millions worldwide, HD and DVRs are becoming such a part of consumer lives that by 2012 more than 70% of digital STBs shipped are expected to integrate support for one or both of these technologies, up from about 35% in 2007, says iSuppli.
 
“DVRs are cheap to integrate into STBs because hard disk drive costs have plummeted,” said Jordan Selburn, principal analyst for set-top boxes for iSuppli. “With the street price of storage just pennies per gigabyte and falling daily, the time is not far off when video storage hardware, whether at home or remote, will be both essentially limitless and virtually free.
 
“HD falls into a similar category as DVRs,” Selburn said. “HD video processing chips are migrating to 65-nm semiconductor manufacturing technologies, causing their incremental costs to drop compared to standard-definition devices. HD display prices are falling rapidly as well. iSuppli forecasts that more than 125 million of these displays will ship in 2008, and customers will demand HD content to watch on their new televisions.”
 
With a perfect storm of lower-cost HD technology, increasing HD content and greater high-speed Internet access, HD will become the mainstream resolution by 2012, says iSuppli. This is likely to be a one-time transition, however. While companies are beginning to develop the so-called quad definition displays with twice the resolution of HD, most consumers will never need to adopt this technology.
 
The STB evolution won’t stop when HD and DVRs become the norm, however. In the long term, media hubs and home gateways are destined to supplant today’s one-box-per-set approach. Not only will this lower costs, it will enhance the user experience by serving video to all displays in a home from a centralized location, says the firm.
 
TAIPEI -- Asustek Computer will postpone the planned hirings of some 1,500 workers in response to the slowing economy, according to published reports.

In today's newsletter, DigiTimes reports Asustek has instituted "a high standard to inspect its human resource demands in each department." The company, DigiTimes said, "will continue on schedule with its personnel plan for next year, so it does not really consider itself as having a hiring freeze."

Asustek is one of the world's largest PC manufacturers and its ODM revenues rank it third in the world.

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIAUnisem Group has started volume shipment of packages using copper wirebonding technology.
 
Integrated Device Technology thin shrink small outline packages integrate Unisem’s copper wirebonds for a range of applications, including clock devices for desktops and notebook PCs.
 
“IDT recognizes the traction copper has gained as an interconnect material in semiconductor packaging. The clear advantages of copper – better performance and higher electrical test yields – helped convince us and our customers of the strategic benefits we would receive by using copper wire,” said Anne Katz, vice president of worldwide assembly and test for IDT.
 
By 2009, 30% of Unisem’s wirebonders will be set up for copper, the company says.
SHENZHEN -- Huawei, one of China's largest electronics OEMs, took its cellphone manufacturing group off the market, saying the world financial situation must first be resolved.

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