The three-month moving average of global chip sales came in at $21.49 billion, up 0.03 percent from January 2007 and ahead of expectations according to one research firm.

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA) said the figure was down 3.6 percent from the three-month average reported for December 2007 when the industry reported sales of $22.3 billion.

The sequential decline in sales is in line with traditional seasonal patterns for the industry.

Unit shipments of DRAMs and NAND flash grew modestly in January, said SIA President George Scalise. Even with healthy demand from important end markets, however, a very competitive environment resulted in price pressures for these products which in turn led to continued erosion in average selling prices. Excluding memory products, semiconductor sales were up by 8.1 percent year-on-year.

Unit shipments of personal computers and cellular handsets were in line with expectations in January. Analysts are projecting unit growth of around 12 percent for PCs and 12 to 15 percent for cellular handsets in 2008. PCs and cell phones together account for approximately 60 percent of worldwide semiconductor sales.

The U.S. economy has entered a period of slower growth that may impact consumer purchases of electronic products, Scalise continued. However the emergence and growth of large consumer markets outside the U.S. has created new opportunities for chipmakers.

The emergence of these global markets underscores the importance of maintaining open markets and eliminating barriers to international commerce, Scalise concluded.