Business activity growth in the United Arab Emirates’ non-oil private sector slowed to a 17-month low in March as expansion of both output and new orders eased, a corporate survey showed on Sunday.
The seasonally adjusted HSBC UAE Purchasing Managers’ Index, which measures manufacturing and services, fell to 56.3 points last month from 58.1 in February. The 50-point level separates growth from contraction in the survey of 400 firms.
“Rates of expansion eased for the second month running and were below those seen through much of last year,” said Philip Leake, economist at data provider Markit. “As a result, workforce numbers rose at the slowest pace in three years.”
Output growth dropped to 60.7 points from 64.3, while new order growth slowed to 61.6 from 63.3. However, growth in export orders actually accelerated because of strong demand in neighbouring countries. Employment growth fell to 51.3 points.
Input costs and output charges fell simultaneously for the first time in five years, which the survey attributed to stiff competition among suppliers. Input price inflation tumbled to 49.3 points from 53.6; output price inflation edged up to 49.2.