Dubai: New business activity in Dubai’s private sector had its slowest December in more than two years, while job creation was also quite muted.
But there were some positives as 2018 came to a close — inflationary pressures continue to remain weak, according to the latest Emirates NBD purchasing managers index (PMI) tracker.
The tracker recorded a score of 53.7 for December and down from November’s relatively robust 55.3.
These scores indicate sentiments regarding operating conditions among private sector entities.
December’s was the “second-lowest reading in over two years and below the historic average (since 2010) of 55.2, signalling relatively muted non-oil growth,” Emirates NBD notes in a commentary.
“The average for the fourth quarter of 2018 (53.8) was the lowest of any quarter since Q1-16.
“All three of the key monitored sectors – construction, wholesale and retail and travel and tourism – registered slower improvements in business conditions in December. Travel and tourism continued to post the weakest overall growth (52.0), followed by construction (53.7) and wholesale and retail (54.2).”
For those tracking job creation, December did not provide much of a boost and followed a “fractional rise in staffing levels during November and declines in both September and October”.
In fact, jobs contracted during December within the construction and travel and tourism sectors.
According to Khatija Haque, Head of MENA Research at Emirates NBD, the overall 2018 numbers do suggest a more marked turnaround in sentiments could be on the way.
“December’s index reading takes the 2018 average to 55.0 – moderately weaker than the 56.0 averaged in 2017 but nevertheless a more robust reading than seen in 2015 and 2016.
“Output in the whole of Dubai survey remained solidly expansionary, with over a quarter of respondents seeing greater activity, while nearly a third of firms saw greater new orders, in a positive for future output. The majority also expected future conditions to improve, with only 5.3 per cent expecting a deterioration over the next 12 months.”