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% in 2006 over the previous year, reaching $247 billion (£125.5bn) in sales. But in Europe, sales were up just 1.6% in 2006, the group said.

The increase was driven by digital signal processors (DSPs), 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 $3.5 billion, down 5.1% over November. However, December sales were up 5.4% compared to the same month in 2005.

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