Business activity tracker in Gulf kingdom rises as employment hits three-month high
Growth of business activity in Saudi Arabia's non-oil private sector rose in December, a survey of over 400 private companies showed on Saturday.
The SABB HSBC Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers' Index, which measures activity in the manufacturing and services sectors, was 58.9 points last month compared to 57 points in November.
The seasonally adjusted index remains well above the 50-point mark separating growth from contraction.
It reflects the economic performance of the Saudi Arabian non-oil producing private sector companies through the monitoring of a number of variables, including output, orders, prices, stocks and employment.
Operating conditions in the private sector improved in December, with output and new orders increasing solidly and employment levels rising at the sharpest rate in three months.
Meanwhile, the overall rate of input price inflation weakened slightly, the survey said.
December data also signalled a further rise in production at non-oil producing private sector firms in Saudi Arabia, with almost 30 percent of respondents indicating higher output levels.
New orders continued to increase, and at a higher rate than in the previous survey period. Panelists linked growth of new work to improved market conditions.
New export orders received rose further in December and at the sharpest rate in 17 months while the level of outstanding work decreased slightly, and for the second month running.
Employment levels continued to rise during December, with more than nine percent of companies hiring additional staff linked to increased business.
Average prices charged by non-oil producing private sector firms in Saudi Arabia rose, which was partly driven by increased input costs, the survey said.
The latest survey data also indicated an increase in the quantity of items purchased by private sector firms with higher business requirements one of the drivers behind the expansion.