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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Worldwide semiconductor sales were up 58 percent in the first quarter compared to a year ago, the Semiconductor Industry Association reported Monday.

Last year\'s first quarter marked the low point of the recession, and the latest figures represent a return to near pre-recession levels. They were a record for the first quarter, and the highest since late 2007, the industry group said.

"While we expect that 2010 sales will continue to be strong, the year-on-year growth rate will moderate going forward, reflecting the industry recovery that began in the second half of 2009," said SIA President George Scalise.

Average monthly sales were $23.1 billion, up 2.8 percent from last year\'s fourth quarter.

Year-over-year growth was most pronounced in the Asia-Pacific region, where sales climbed 72 percent, and the Americas, where sales rose 48 percent. Sales increased 42 percent in Europe and 43 percent in Japan.

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