Market research firm IDC has raised its growth forecast for global personal-computer sales this year to 3 per cent from 1.8 per cent on the strength of a rebound in consumer buying in Europe and the United States. For the China market, IDC lowered its growth forecast to 18 per cent from 20 per cent, citing an uncertain economic climate and slowed consumer PC consumption. For the global revision, IDC said it based its change on stronger-than-expected sales in the retail desktop and portable-computer segments. Kitty Fok, PC analyst in IDC's Hong Kong office, said: 'I think the impact from [the terror attacks in the US on September 11] is not as serious as we had originally expected.' In Asia, China is expected to be the main growth market this year, with unit shipments projected at more than 10 million for the year. For the fourth quarter, a shortage of Intel's Pentium 4 processors and an expected drop early this year in import duties on PCs led to lower-than-expected sales. The growth rate was 7.8 per cent. This would be a respectable number for any key PC market, but is disappointing in one accustomed to double-digit growth. Corporate PC sales in China should remain strong in the coming year, though economic uncertainty would put a damper on consumer sales, Ms Fok said. IDC reported that 121.8 million units were shipped worldwide last year, a 5.2 per cent drop from 2000. This year, IDC expects sales of 125.5 million units. In Hong Kong, the PC market is expected to shrink 12 per cent this year to a little more than 500,000 units. Japan also remains a weak market, IDC said. 'While consumer demand recovered somewhat in the fourth quarter, overall shipments in Japan will decline . . . in the first half of 2002 and commercial market shipments will barely show positive growth even by the fourth quarter.'