Dutch hi-tech group ASML books strong first quarter

Dutch computer chip maker and global hi-tech bellwether ASML said net sales for the first quarter of 2017 were stronger than expected, jumping 46 percent to 1.94 billion euros

Dutch computer chip maker and global hi-tech bellwether ASML said Wednesday that sales and profits soared in the first quarter amid "strong demand" across the sector.

Net sales for the first quarter of 2017 were stronger than expected, jumping 46 percent to 1.94 billion euros ($2.08 billion).

Net income also more than doubled leaping to 452 million euros from 198 million in the first quarter of 2016.

"A positive industry environment provided a strong start to 2017 and healthy demand is expected to continue throughout the rest of the year," said ASML president Peter Wennink in a statement.

He said there had been "strong demand from all sectors of the industry" and the company expected the trend to continue in the second quarter of 2017 when sales could reach two billion euros.

Seen as a global hi-tech bellwether for the microprocessing industry, ASML is based in Veldhoven, southern Netherlands.

It is one of the world's leading makers of lithography systems used by the semiconductor industry to make integrated circuits and microchips.

The systems are used to manufacture processor chips, as well as memory chips such as DRAM and SRAM, essential for mobile phones and tablets.

It employs more than 17,000 people and operates in 16 countries.