Semiconductor sales in Europe last year grew more slowly than the worldwide average, dragged down by slow growth in microprocessors in the region, according to a report from the European Semiconductor Industry Association.

Worldwide sales of semiconductors grew 8.9 percent in 2006 over the previous year, reaching CDN$292 billion in sales. But in Europe, sales were up just 1.6 percent in 2006, the group said.

The increase was driven by DSPs (digital signal processors), dynamic RAM, flash memory, discrete devices such as power transistors, and application-specific chips for consumer, automotive and industrial applications.

While sales were low in December, they helped boost the yearly figure because they were better than the previous year. In the final month, European semiconductor sales were CDN$4.14 billion, down 5.1 percent over November. However, December sales were up 5.4 percent compared to the same month in 2005.

December produced low sales around the world but were still better than 2005. For the month, worldwide semiconductor sales were CDN$25.7 billion, down 3.6 percent compared to November but up 9 percent over December 2005.

The report comes amid mixed results from chip makers around the globe for the final quarter of 2006. Germany’s Infineon Technologies AG reported a 27 percent increase in sales for its quarter that ended Dec. 31 compared to the previous year, despite a significant drop in sales from its group that supplies chips for mobile phones. But Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Ltd. posted a 5.4 percent drop in sales for the same period compared to the corresponding quarter in 2005.