For the last two months, we've been telling you that after a brutal recession, tech is back -- and leading the charge for a U.S. recovery. On Monday, further evidence of that trend emerged, as global microchip sales shot up 47.2% in January, compared to the previous year, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association.

Chip stocks surged 3.1 percent on the report, led by Sandisk (SNDK), which was up nearly 12%.

Because microchips power everything from computers to cellphones, strength in the sector is a key measure of the tech industry's health.

"Worldwide semiconductor sales in January increased significantly compared to one year ago, reflecting today's improving business environment for the industry," SIA President George Scalise said in a statement." January and February of 2009 were the low point of the industry downturn as the semiconductor industry and electronics manufacturers quickly responded to the global economic recession."

The trade group reported that January chip sales even topped December 2009 sales, which is unusual because January sales usually decline after strong, holiday-driven demand for electronic devices. Demand was, in fact, strong over the holidays, but it only appears to be increasing.

"We are currently seeing strength across a range of demand drivers for semiconductors, including personal computers, cell phones, automobiles, and industrial applications," Scalise said.

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