Taiwan’s export orders rose more than expected in March as a steadily improving global economy brightened the outlook for the island’s handheld devices and other tech gadgets.

The surprisingly strong export orders temper concerns about a slowdown in China, its largest trading partner and a major importer of parts and goods for other Asian exporting nations.

Taiwan’s export orders in March grew 5.9 percent from a year earlier, the Ministry of Economic Affairs said on Monday, beating a median forecast of 4.6 percent growth in a Reuters poll.

It also improved upon the 5.7 percent gain notched in February and the meager 1 percent gain during the first two months of 2014.

“Handheld device demand continued to rise, prompting a solid increase in semiconductor orders,” the ministry said in a statement.

Orders from China rose 3.1 percent, while those from the United States edged up 1 percent. Orders from Europe jumped 8.9 percent, and those from Japan surged 17.9 percent.

“The March data was mainly because HTC’s smartphone sales to the Japan market came out better than expected,” said analyst Kevin Wang of Taishin Investment Advisory. “And TSMC was benefitting from strong demand of Apple Inc,” he said, referring to the Taiwan company’s production of semiconductors for Apple.

Wang expected Taiwan’s second-quarter orders to grow 3 percent to 6 percent year on year, topping the first quarter’s 2.7 percent growth.

Taiwan’s export orders typically lead actual exports by one to two months and are a leading indicator of demand for technology products worldwide.

Actual exports grew 2 percent in March after a big 8 percent jump in February.

Taiwan’s tech sector, a main driver of its export engine, had reported mixed results in earnings profit over the past several weeks.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd, the world’s largest contract chip maker, on Thursday reported first-quarter profit that beat expectations and painted a rosy forecast for 2014.

Smartphone maker HTC Corp posted a first-quarter loss but reversed 28 straight months of declining monthly sales in March.

Computer vendor Acer Inc continues to suffer from losses and recently suffered its eighth straight monthly sales drop. (Reuters)