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Sat 5 Mar 2016 01:01 AM

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UAE private sector growth rebounds in February after slowdown

Improvement in business conditions is helped by expansions in output, new orders and employment

UAE private sector growth rebounds in February after slowdown

Growth of the UAE’s non-oil private sector gathered speed in February, having slowed in four of the previous five months, according to a new report.

The overall improvement in business conditions was helped by expansions in output, new orders and employment, said the latest Emirates NBD UAE Purchasing Managers' Index.

All three variables rose slightly faster than in January, but the respective indexes remained below long-run trends, it said.

The headline Emirates NBD UAE PMI climbed to 53.1 in February, from 52.7 in January. With the previous reading being the lowest since March 2012, the latest figure was still below the series average (54.5).

Nonetheless, it bucked the recent trend of slowing growth, and was consistent with a solid improvement in business conditions overall.

Meanwhile, with total cost pressures remaining muted, firms cut charges to the greatest extent since March 2010 as they competed to secure new clients. 

Khatija Haque, head of MENA Research at Emirates NBD, said: “The improvement in the Emirates NBD UAE PMI last month is encouraging, particularly against a backdrop of low oil prices, global growth concerns and a strong US dollar. 

"However, the rate of growth in the non-oil private sector remains much weaker than a year ago, when the headline PMI registered 58.1. We expect the environment over the coming weeks to remain challenging, with several global factors weighing on sentiment and activity.” 

Both output and new orders rose more quickly in February, contributing to faster growth of the sector as a whole. The respective rates of expansion were marked but slower than on average over the survey’s history, having picked up only fractionally since the prior month.

Higher new work was partly a result of lower tariffs, according to the index. Meanwhile, data indicated that a rebound in growth of new export business had supported total new orders at UAE non-oil private sector firms.

Faster job creation was another factor behind the rise in the headline index during February. Employment rose at the quickest pace in three months, albeit only moderately overall.

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