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Sun 6 Jan 2013 05:34 PM

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UAE private sector growth at 19-month high

Business activity tracker rises in December as UAE sees pick-up in job creation

UAE private sector growth at 19-month high
Growth in the UAEs private sector is on the up. (AFP/Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

Growth in the UAE's non-oil private sector rose to a 19-month high in December as new orders increased sharply, a survey showed on Sunday.

The HSBC UAE Purchasing Managers' Index, which measures the performance of the manufacturing and services sectors, climbed to a seasonally adjusted 55.6 points last month from 53.7 in November.

A reading above 50 points in the survey of 400 private sector firms means the sector is expanding. High oil prices, a booming tourism industry and the beginning of a recovery in Dubai's property market, which crashed in 2009-2010, helped the UAE economy last year.

"It is a fitting reading to mark the end of a strong recovery year for the UAE," said Simon Williams, chief economist for the Middle East at HSBC.

"Good output growth, firm new orders from home and abroad and a pick-up in job creation point to an economy that is growing at a solid pace and well-placed to maintain momentum.

"While the UAE will still likely lag some of its neighbours, the economy enters 2013 at its most positive in five years."

The survey showed output growth rose to 56.3 points in December, also a 19-month high, from 53.5 in November.

New orders rose at their fastest rate since the survey was launched in August 2009, with around 38 percent of respondents reporting an increase in new business flows.

The pace of job creation accelerated slightly and was the highest in five months; the size of the workforce expanded every month during 2012.

Input prices rose in December but input cost inflation was the lowest since September 2010. Output prices were almost unchanged.

Economy minister Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansouri estimated in November that the UAE's gross domestic product would grow between 3.5 and 4 percent in 2012 after 4.2 percent in 2011.

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