The Financial Times Confidential Research (FTCR) China Freight Index fell sharply in February as the lunar new year holiday caused significant disruptions to internal trade. This was the weakest reading for the headline index since August 2016, with sub-indices measuring volumes, rates and profits all hitting multi-month lows. The FTCR Freight Volume Index plunged to 37.1 from 44.9 in January, the lowest reading since February 2014 (33.3). The proportion of respondents reporting a decrease in volumes over the previous month rose to 39% from 20.5% in January. Much of the deterioration is due to the impact of the holiday, which officially started on January 28 but tends to dominate the first two months of the Chinese calendar year. However, the outlook among freight companies for volumes in the coming month suggests that the industry was atypically cautious coming out of this holiday period.
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