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Mon 7 Sep 2009 05:22 AM

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Saudi companies optimistic on outlook - survey

New HSBC research shows 40% of small firms in kingdom expect to hire more staff.

Saudi Arabia's small business sector is among the most optimistic of 12 key emerging markets studied in a new HSBC survey.

Small business sentiment across the kingdom was largely positive in their 12 month outlook regarding nvestment in their businesses, foreign trade and recruitment, the Emerging Markets Small Business Confidence Monitor added.

The survey showed that 39 percent of Saudi businesses with a turnover of less than $30m expected to increase capital expenditure while only 19 percent believed investment in their companies would slow.

The kingdom's entrepreneurs were even more optimistic about trade outlook. About 57 percent believed trade with the rest of the Middle East will expand by up to a fifth or more.

80 percent predicted increased business with mainland China, with more than half of these anticipating growth of more than 20 percent.

Two thirds of respondents forecast a rise in trade with the rest of Asia.

Regarding recruitment, owners and top management of Saudi Arabia's small businesses have the most ambitious plans of any of the 12 emerging markets surveyed with 40 percent expecting to need to increase their workforces and with one in eight seeking to grow their staff by more than 20 percent.

"Overall, the leaders of Saudi Arabia's smaller business sector - the vital fuel of every country's economy - are more positive about the short term outlook than their counterparts in almost all other emerging markets surveyed," said, Adel Al-Nasser, deputy managing director of SABB.