The FTCR China Export Index rose in March as the outlook among respondents brightened. At 55.1, this was the strongest March reading since 2015 and marked 21 months above 50, signalling improving conditions.

Most respondents noted stability in their export volumes, new order flows and profits, helping our headline index continue to range between 52.5 and 57, as it has since July 2016.

The fortunes of Chinese exporters have recovered sharply since mid-2016 and our survey suggests they are reasonably bullish for the coming month, now that the lunar new year holiday has passed. 

Our Export Volume Index rose for the first time in five months, increasing 2.5 points to 60.8. Our index gauging the flow of new orders was 0.1 points higher than the previous month at 53.1.

Respondents were more optimistic on the outlook for the coming month, with the FTCR China Export Outlook Index increasing 3.2 points to 53.4, above the previous 12-month average of 51.5. 

Our Export Price Index fell 0.3 points to a three-month low of 50.9 in March. Most respondents (83.4 per cent) said prices were unchanged over the previous month, while just 7.4 per cent reported falling prices.

The FTCR China Export Cost Index rose 2.5 points in March to 56.7. Among respondents, 19 per cent said costs had increased over the previous month, while 75.5 per cent said they were unchanged. 

Our Export Profit Index pointed to a seventh straight month of rising profits, though the pace at which they rose slowed again. Our profit index fell 0.8 points from February to 52.5. 

The FTCR China Export survey is based on interviews with 200 export manufacturers, trading companies and shipping agents nationwide. For further details click here. This report contains the headline figures from the latest Export survey; the full results are available from our Database.

FT Confidential Research is an independent research service from the Financial Times, providing in-depth analysis of and statistical insight into China and south-east Asia. Our team of researchers in these key markets combine findings from our proprietary surveys with on-the-ground research to provide predictive analysis for investors.