Investor confidence in the memory-manufacturing sector has improved, after a major chip maker announced 30 per cent increases in its contract-chip prices.

Hynix Semiconductor is the world's third largest memory manufacturer. A spokesman told Reuters: "Sales of personal computers are rising with the spread of Windows XP."

The memory market suffered badly last year in the face of declining PC sales that caused chronic oversupply and price free-fall. The industry's response has been to consolidate.

Samsung told Reuters it is also planning to increase its prices.

A number of big-name manufacturers moved out of the sector altogether, while others combined to improve prospects. News of a 30 per cent hike could spark an increase in consumer memory prices.

Schroder Salomon Smith Barney analyst Nav Sheera told FT Marketwatch that memory prices had climbed 30 per cent in the past ten days. The analyst believes the move may be the first sign of a recovering market overall.

Hynix shares climbed 15 per cent at the news. Other manufacturers stocks also enjoying rekindled investor interest at the news. Powerchip Semiconductor climbed seven per cent during yesterday's trades.