IDC has lowered its global IT market growth forecast for this year, due mainly to weakness in Europe and Japan.

IT spending in Europe is now expected to grow by 4.4 percent this year, compared to a previous estimate of 5.8 percent, said Juan Orozco, research manager for worldwide IT markets at IDC. Worsening economic conditions in Western Europe caused some large firms to hold back on major IT purchases in the first quarter, IDC noted.

Spending growth in Japan will likely reach just 1.2 percent this year, down from 3.2 percent, mostly thanks to low spending on hardware like PCs and servers. US spending growth was revised down slightly to 5.5 percent from 6 percent.

The first quarter was broadly stable and brought solid results for many IT vendors, IDC said. However the company noted some mixed signals in the US and that worsening economic conditions began to impact IT spending in Europe towards the end of the quarter.

Interest rates, oil prices, and currency fluctuations were all named as potential wild cards that could impact business confidence and investment in the second quarter and throughout the year.

Global spending on IT products in the first three months of the year was underpinned by increased technology budgets among businesses as they started new projects in security, regulatory compliance, infrastructure management and business intelligence.

However, the market research firm revised its forecast for compound annual global IT spending growth down to 6 percent annually between 2005 and 2009 from a previous estimate of 6.5 percent between 2005 and 2008.