US ATTACK: Terror attacks halt chip trading in the U.S.

Trading in memory chips in the U.S. came to a halt Tuesday as the country reeled from a series of deadly terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., according to Steve Tan, a DRAM (dynamic random access memory) analyst with market research company Independent Commodity Information Services - London Oil Reports (ICIS-LOR) in Singapore.

The suspension of chip trading came as U.S. skies were closed to commercial traffic, temporarily blocking imports of memory chips, which are generally brought into the country on cargo flights, and raising the possibility of higher memory prices.

"The (memory-chip) market is sort of stopped for the moment," Tan said.

The ban on air cargo flights to the U.S., and its effect on memory-chip imports, could cause memory-chip prices to rise in the U.S. over the short term, Tan said. At the same time, memory prices could drop in Asia and Europe as a result of excess supply. For now though, Tan sees a marked shift in memory prices as unlikely to take place.

"It's going to be very quiet over the next few days," he said.

The ultimate impact on memory prices will depend on how long the ban on flights to the U.S. lasts. For its part, U.S.-based express courier Federal Express Corp. announced in a statement that all of its flights to the U.S. had been cancelled. The company estimated that deliveries to the U.S. were likely to be delayed between 24 and 48 hours as a result of the ban on commercial air traffic once shipments resumed, but could not predict when that would happen.

A Taipei-based customer-service representative for express courier DHL International Ltd. said the company had cancelled its flights to the U.S. The company was unable to predict when normal shipments would resume.

Citing speculation among memory makers, Tan said the ban on air shipments is expected to be lifted by Friday. "But you never know."

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