Point of sales transactions in Saudi Arabia registered a second consecutive month of double-digit yearly growth in August while ATM withdrawals were also up, according to a new research note.
Jadwa Investment's monthly report showed "mild improvements" in economic activity in the Gulf kingdom with ATM withdrawals rising 4 percent compared to August 2016.
Jadwa noted that foreign reserve assets held by the Saudi Arabia Monetary Authority dropped by $6.8 billion in August but added that it expects the recently announced international bond issuance, totalling $12.5 billion, to ease the pace of declines in foreign reserve assets.
According to latest available data, July saw the first yearly rise in the value of imports in 2017, rising by 19 percent compared to the same time last year. Non-oil exports were also up by 25 percent year-on-year, the first such rise since January, Jadwa's research note showed.
Data on Q2 real GDP showed the Saudi economy contracting by 1 percent, year-on-year. Growth continues to be dragged down by the oil sector (-1.8 percent), as a result of the kingdom’s compliance with OPEC cuts, it added.
The report also showed that the share of foreign hajj pilgrims rose to its highest level in a decade in 2017. Foreign hajj pilgrims averaged around 67 percent of total pilgrims between 2007-2016, but this share climbed to 74 percent in 2017.
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