Chipmakers are on pace for their best first quarter ever as fears about global economy ease

Chipmakers are enjoying their best ever start to a year, boosting investor confidence amid lingering concerns of slowing economic growth.

The — a fund that closely tracks companies in the sector — has gained nearly 22 percent since the start of the year, the best first-quarter performance since its inception in 2000. That surge outpaces the broader S&P 500‘s 12 percent rally. Chipmakers have now posted gains in 10 of 12 weeks to start 2019, and, on Friday, the ETF hit its highest level since early October.

The recent rally in semiconductor stocks is a sharp reversal after the SMH . Growing trade tensions between the U.S. and China, coupled with nagging concerns about China‘s economic growth, rattled confidence in some of the industry‘s key players. , along with a , further fed investor anxiety surrounding weakened demand.

Taken in total, during 2018, the ETF saw its worst annual loss in a decade.