Domestic sales of equipment for manufacturing semiconductors and liquid-crystal panels are expected to peak in the current fiscal year, an industry association said Thursday.

The Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan estimated sales of such equipment will reach 902.6 billion yen, up 18.1 percent from the previous year. But it said demand will likely pick up again in fiscal 2007, supported by a solid boom in digital products.

After double-digit growth every year from fiscal 2002 to 2004, sales will likely shrink 3.7 percent in fiscal 2005 to 869.6 billion yen before falling 7.6 percent in the following year to 803.4 billion yen, it said.

Sales plunged 42.4 percent in fiscal 2001 after the information technology-related business boom ended.

Sales in Japan are forecast to rise 11.7 percent in fiscal 2007 to 897.4 billion yen, buoyed by an expected recovery in demand for personal computers worldwide, it said.

“Current intense investment in semiconductor-manufacturing equipment will subside, but the decline will be relatively small, and there will be a sustainable demand as recent manufacturing devices can produce various products,” an association official said.

The body estimates brisk domestic sales of digital home products and appliances, such as flat-screen televisions and mobile-phone handsets, will continue.

It also forecast Japanese companies’ sales of semiconductor-manufacturing equipment and liquid-crystal panels in global markets to peak at 2.078 trillion yen in fiscal 2004 before falling in fiscal 2005 and 2006. Sales are expected to recover in fiscal 2007.

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