Saudi non-oil sector posts robust growth in Feb

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The non-oil private sector in Saudi Arabia registered robust growth in February with its output expanding at a faster pace compared to the same period last year, said a report.

After accounting for seasonal factors, the headline Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) climbed to a four-month high of 58.5 in February, up from 57.8 in January, according to the PMI issued by Saudi British Bank (SABB) and HSBC.

It reflects the economic performance of Saudi Arabian non-oil producing private sector companies through monitoring a number of variables, including output, orders, prices, stocks and employment.

Underpinning the strong performance of Saudi Arabia’s non-oil private economy was marked growth of new business in February. Moreover, the increase in total new work was supported by a robust expansion in foreign orders during the month, it stated.

Similarly, output rose in line with the headline index in February, amid reports of improving demand. The rate of expansion accelerated to the most marked since last October, having eased to the joint-weakest in ten months at the start of 2015.

Subsequently, firms operating in Saudi Arabia’s non-oil private sector continued to hire additional staff in February, extending the current sequence of jobs growth to 11 months.

Furthermore, the pace of job creation picked up from the prior month and was above the long-run series average, it stated.

According to SABB/HSBC PMI index, stronger order books continued to place pressure on operating capacity in February, with backlogs of work rising for the 25th month running.

Higher new work inflows and business requirements also impacted on purchasing activity during the month. Companies increased their input buying at a sharp rate, leading to a solid increase in pre-production inventories, it added.

Meanwhile, the average lead times shortened at the fastest rate since December 2012 in February. A number of panel members commented on a positive reaction from suppliers to increased demand for inputs.

Economic pressures from rising input costs eased and were historically muted in February. The rate of purchase price increase slowed for the fourth month in succession, while average staff costs continued to increase at a modest pace.

As a result, overall input prices rose at the weakest pace in nine months. Higher costs were linked by survey participants to strong demand conditions, although there were also reports of lower oil prices during the month.

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