UAE non-oil business conditions improve slightly as employment picks up
The October headline PMI number remained unchanged as the global economy continues to soften
Non-oil private sector economic growth in the UAE remained unchanged in October as the global economy continues to soften, however, business conditions in the Arab world’s second largest economy showed signs of slight improvement as employment picked up.
The headline seasonally-adjusted IHS Markit UAE Purchasing Managers’ Index - a composite indicator of operating conditions in the non-oil economy – remained unchanged at 51.1 in October, its lowest level since May 2010. A reading above 50 indicates economic growth and below suggests contraction.
Employment rose for the second consecutive month in October, however, the rate of growth remained marginal. While some UAE firms raised payroll numbers amid efforts to adapt business strategies in a weaker sales environment, others reduced their labour in order to cut costs, according to the survey.
Despite tough market conditions, business expectations towards future output improved in October, as firms surveyed were positive that new strategies and greater investment ahead of the Expo 2020 would lead to higher levels of activity.
Curtailing growth at the start of the fourth quarter was the weakest increase in new work orders at UAE businesses after quicker pace of growth recorded earlier this year. The rate at which sales rose was also fractionally slower than in September, as firms reported softening demand after relatively strong growth earlier in 2019.
Rising competition continued to dampen new business both at home and abroad, according to panel members, with sales to foreign clients falling for the first time in 19 months.
“The amount of new work also remained subdued, as competition meant that sales increased only marginally from September,” David Owen, an economist at IHS Markit, said.
Cash issues were again a factor hampering firms in October as some panellists noted that a lack of liquidity stalled the delivery of sold products, leading to higher backlogs, while delayed payments to suppliers disrupted supply chains, he noted.
Updated: November 5, 2019 09:51 AM