Growth in the United Arab Emirates’ non-oil private sector eased to a three-month low in November as the surge in new orders lost a little steam, a survey showed on Wednesday.
The HSBC UAE Purchasing Managers’ Index, which measures the performance of the manufacturing and services sectors, edged down to 53.7 points last month from 53.8 in October.
The adjusted index remained well clear of the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction in the survey of 400 private sector firms, although the headline reading was well below that of neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
“Given the weak global backdrop, this is another strong reading that puts the UAE non-oil economy firmly in expansionary territory,” said Simon Williams, chief economist for the Middle East at HSBC.
“The strong new orders and new export readings are particularly encouraging and point to an economy not only showing growth but well placed to maintain momentum,” he said.
UAE firms’ output index eased to 53.5 points in November, the lowest since March, from 54.3 in October.
The new orders index dipped to 60.1 points from 60.3, but the pace of growth remained robust.
The expansion in new export orders held steady at 56.7 points last month, the highest since May 2011, the survey also showed.
“Despite the sustained pickup in activity, the PMI shows the economy operating well within capacity; as a result, the upward pressures on prices and wages remains moderate,” Williams said.
Employment growth across the UAE’s non-oil private sector moderated in November, sliding to an eight-month low of 51.6 points.
Manufacturers and services had to lower their output prices again in November due to stiffer competition, with that index falling below 50. But growth in input prices slowed to 53.3 points – the weakest level since November 2010.
Consumer price inflation in the UAE, the world’s No. 3 oil exporter, slowed to 0.5 per cent on an annual basis in October, according to government data.
Last month, Minister of Economy Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansouri forecast 2012 economic growth of 3.5-4 per cent and a 2013 expansion of about 3.5 per cent.