Semiconductor-equipment orders held essentially steady in September, as the company's key book-to-bill ratio remained above parity for the second straight month.

North American-basedmanufacturers of chip equipment posted $1.09 billion in orders inSeptember, based on a three-month average basis, down slightly from $1.1 billion booked in August, according to a report issued by trade group Semiconductor Equipment & Material International.

Bookings were 19% below the $1.35 billion in orders recorded in September 2004.

The industry's book-to-bill ratio fell to 1.02 from 1.05 in August. A book-to-bill of 1.02 means that $102 worth of orders were received for every$100 of product billed (shipped) for the month.

"The book-to-bill ratio is above parity for the second month sequentially,with bookings and billings remaining essentially unchanged from the priorthree-month average period," said Stanley T. Myers, president and CEO of SEMI."Chipmakers are currently maintaining conservative spending patterns althoughwe see indications of improving capacity utilization levels."

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