Sales of electronic chips rose 3.4 percent to $24.1 billion in April, the biggest monthly boost in two years, the Semiconductor Industry Association reported. The trade group repeated an earlier forecast for yearly chip sales to reach $301 billion, a slight boost over 2011.

The April increase, while a welcome indication that demand for PCs, smartphones, automobiles and industrial equipment that needs semiconductors is growing, still reflected badly against the year-earlier figure, when sales were $24.8 billion.

Regionally, the biggest gain was 5.6 percent in the Americas, followed by 5.4 percent in Asia-Pacific and only 1.8 percent in Europe, the Washington, D.C.-based trade group said. Japan demand fell about 2 percent.

Shares of the Philadelphia Semiconductor Index, which includes the top U.S. chipmakers including Intel (Nasdaq: INTC), the No. 1 chipmaker and Texas Instruments (Nasdaq: TXN), No. 2 in the U.S., rose 9.56 to 370.06 in late Wednesday trading. Its 52-week high is 444.96.