DUBAI: Growth in the United Arab Emirates’ non-oil sector picked up in April at its fastest pace since December 2017 as new orders and business activity expanded, a survey showed on Sunday.
The seasonally adjusted Emirates NBD UAE Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which covers manufacturing and services and provides an overview of the non-oil private sector economy, rose to 57.6 in April from 55.7 a month earlier.
A reading above 50 indicates expansion and below that, contraction.
The output sub-index rose to 65.3 in April from 63.0 in March, while the new orders sub-index rose to 64.6 in April from 59.0 in the previous month.
External demand also picked up markedly as new work from Saudi Arabia and Oman in particular pushed the rate of growth in new export orders to a near four-year high, according to respondents in the survey.
“The improvement in the volume of activity and new order growth last month is encouraging,” said Khatija Haque, head of MENA research at Emirates NBD.
“However, with firms still competing on price, there is still a reluctance to boost hiring and we haven’t seen a meaningful improvement in job growth.”
The UAE economy grew by around 1.7 percent in 2018, slower than projected despite a boost from higher oil prices, official preliminary data showed last month. The economy is projected to grow at a 3.5 percent rate in 2019, helped by strong non-oil activity, the central bank said in its quarterly report.
The employment sub-index rose to 50.5, the best number since January this year. But the survey showed approximately 96 percent of respondents left staffing levels unchanged over the month.
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(Reporting by Saeed Azhar; Editing by Toby Chopra) ((Saeed.Azhar@thomsonreuters.com; +971 44536787; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))
Keywords: UAE ECONOMY/PMI