SAN FRANCISCO — The semiconductor capital equipment market continues to hum along with sales remaining on an upward trajectory in February, with market watchers continuing to anticipate a fourth consecutive year of fab tool spending growth.

The three-month moving average of fab tool sales for North American and Japanese semiconductor gear makers increased on both a sequential and annual basis, according to industry trade groups.

SEMI, the trade association that represents North American semiconductor equipment vendors, reported that North American equipment firms posted $2.41 billion in worldwide bookings in February, up 2 percent from January and up 22 percent compared to February 2017.

Meanwhile, SEMI's Japanese counterpart, the Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan (SEAJ), said Japanese fab tool vendors reported billings of 170.5 billion yen (about $1.6 billion) in February, up 7 percent from January and up 24 percent from February 2017.

Semiconductor Capital Equipment Market Sales Data

“February billings remain at a level indicating another positive year for semiconductor equipment spending," said Ajit Manocha, president and CEO of SEMI, in a press statement.

SEMI is projecting that fab tool spending will grow about 9 percent this year compared to last year's record total, reaching more than $62 billion. A surge in spending on equipment for 14 wafer fabs in China that started construction in 2017 is largely credited with projected growth in 2018 and 2019, when global spending is forecast to rise by an additional 5 percent.

The semiconductor industry has not had three consecutive years of equipment spending increases since the mid-1990s.

— Dylan McGrath is the editor-in-chief of EE Times.