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Chipmaking gear makers look for way out of global downturn

Profits tumble at Japanese and Western peers amid memory glut and trade war

The chip industry downturn has hit suppliers including Japan-based Disco, which makes machines that slice, dice and polish silicon wafers. (Photo courtesy of the company)

TOKYO -- Dusting themselves off after a rough quarter, the world's leading suppliers of semiconductor-manufacturing equipment are looking for signs of when demand will recover in an industry beset by sluggish investment and trade frictions.

Processors may offer better prospects for growth than long-suffering memory chips after Japan's six major producers of chipmaking machinery reported their first combined profit drop in six years.

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