UAE non-oil sector sees growth pick up in November, employment still sluggish

Selling prices in the UAE fell at the fastest rate since the 2009 recession

Employment in the UAE’s non-oil private sector remained flat last month as conditions improved slightly overall, according to Emirates NBD’s purchasing managers’ index.

The headline PMI score rose from 55.0 in October to 55.8 in November as output, new work and export demand rose, with the latter growing at its fastest pace in four months.

This placed the average PMI for the year with one month left at 55.7 compared to 55.9 in 2017. A score above 50 indicates growth and below 50 a contraction.

November also saw employment rise slightly from 50.1 to 50.6, after declines in recent months, but the majority of firms (94.2 per cent) reported an unchanged headcount.

Read: UAE private sector employment flat in October after declining for two months

Staff costs were also only marginally higher in November, with just 1.4 per cent of respondents saying they had increased wages and salaries.

“Selling prices in the UAE fell at the fastest rate since the 2009 recession in November, with the output price index declining to 47.0 from 48.7 in October,” said ENBD’s head of MENA research Khatija Haque.

“That input costs rose at the fastest rate since January even as firms were cutting output prices speaks to the challenging business environment and the pressure this is putting on firms to compete on price.”

Respondents remained optimistic about the future with 75 per cent expecting output to increase compared to 6.7 per cent that predicted it would lower.