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Saudi Arabia’s non-oil private sector growth eased in December, survey results from IHS Markit showed on Monday.

The Purchasing Managers’ Index fell to 53.9 in December from 56.9 in November. Any reading above 50 indicates growth in the sector.

New orders declined to the lowest level in nine months in December and new business from abroad rose at the weakest rate since April.

Output increased at the slowest pace since August and outstanding work declined in December.

The pace of job creation eased to the lowest in four months in December. Purchasing activity increased and stocks of inputs rose at the strongest rate since May.

Delivery time decreased in December.

The rate of inflation rose to the highest since June and selling prices increased.

The degree of confidence was at a one-and-a-half year low in December and fear of further wave of Covid-19 contributed to a deterioration in the 12-month outlook for business activity.

“The Saudi Arabia PMI ended the year on a dull note, as it registered its lowest reading for nine months due to concerns about the global spread of the Omicron variant leading to a marked slowdown in new business growth,” David Owen, an economist at IHS Markit, said.

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