Saudi private sector growth edges up in early Q3

Business survey reveals sharp increases in output and new orders in Gulf kingdom
By Staff writer
Thu 31 Aug 2017 09:50 AM

Growth in Saudi Arabia's non-oil private sector picked up at the start of the third quarter on the back of sharper increases in output and new orders, according to a new survey.

The Emirates NBD Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) showed that greater output requirements encouraged companies to purchase more inputs and stimulated job creation in the sector.

Weakness was seen regarding trade, however, as new export orders fell. On the price front, input costs rose at a solid and accelerated pace. However, firms’ ability to fully pass on higher cost burdens to customers was restricted by intense market competition and charges increased only marginally.

Khatija Haque, head of MENA Research at Emirates NBD, said: “Faster growth in output and new orders helped the headline PMI in Saudi Arabia rise in July, signaling the fastest rate of non-oil sector expansion in three months.

"Firms were more optimistic last month, and this likely contributed to increased buying activity and inventory accumulation.”

The headline seasonally adjusted Emirates NBD Saudi Arabia PMI rose from 54.3 in June to 55.7 in July. This was consistent with a robust improvement in overall business conditions, the strongest since April.

The main factors contributing to the upward trajectory of the non-oil private sector economy were sharper expansions in both new orders and output. Anecdotal evidence highlighted greater projects, good economic conditions, stronger underlying demand and higher construction activity.

Concurrently, June’s increase in new export orders was short-lived, with non-oil private sector companies noting a renewed contraction in July. The rate of decline was fractional, however. Panellists commented on weaker demand from international markets for Saudi Arabian goods and services.

Underlying data provided evidence of ongoing pressures on operating capacity as backlogs rose for the ninth consecutive month. Subsequently, firms increased their payroll numbers, but only marginally.

In response to greater output requirements, businesses scaled up their purchasing activity during July. Moreover, the upturn in input buying was the quickest since April. Subsequently, inventories rose substantially.

On the price front, input cost inflation quickened to the fastest since April and was solid overall. Underlying data suggested that cost pressures mainly emanated from higher purchasing prices.

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