Shipments of printed circuit boards increased 8.7% in February compared to January, buts sales fell .5% from February 2013, according to the Association Connecting Electronics Industries (IPC).
PCB bookings (new orders) grew 1.8% in February compared to the previous month, but declined 11.5% from February 2013, according to the trade association.
The North American PCB book-to-bill ratio strengthened for the third consecutive month, reaching 0.99, compared to 0.95 in January, IPC said. The ratio is for both rigid boards and flexible circuits.
A book-to-bill ratio of 0.99 means board manufacturers received $99 in new orders for every $100 of boards that they shipped in February. A ratio of less than 1.00 indicates weakening demand.
"A strengthening book-to-bill ratio is a hopeful sign, but it is still in negative territory, which is an indicator of sluggish growth in the next few months," said Sharon Starr, IPC's director of market research. She added that while economic indicators are positive for 2014, the PCB industry's recovery is “off to a slow start."