UAE firms output growth slow in July

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Business activity in the United Arab Emirates’ non-oil private sector edged up slightly in July from the previous month, but the growth of export orders fell sharply, a purchasing managers’ survey showed on Sunday.

The HSBC UAE Purchasing Managers’ Index, which measures the performance of the manufacturing and services sectors, rose to 53.4 points last month from 53.2 in June. The adjusted index remains above the 50-point mark which separates growth from contraction, the survey of 400 private sector firms showed.

“Although the sharp drop in export orders is troubling, overall the data suggests the non-oil economy is showing some resilience,” said Simon Williams, chief economist for the Middle East and North Africa at HSBC.

“The headline score is still firmly in expansionary territory, and the positive output, new order and employment readings are particularly encouraging given the troubled global economy and the onset of the Gulf summer.”

UAE firms saw output growth slow again to 53.7 points in July, the weakest level since March, from 54.6 in June. New orders remained steady at 58.4 points.

Growth in new export orders fell steeply to 50.6 points, the slowest rate since June 2010, from 54.5 in the previous month, with firms saying sales were increasingly difficult to secure.

Employment growth across the UAE’s non-oil private sector rose again in July, reaching the highest rate since April 2011, the survey also showed.

Output price growth climbed back above the 50 mark in July, while growth in input prices slowed to 53.8 points, the weakest input inflation for a year and a half.

Consumer price inflation in the UAE, the world’s No. 3 oil exporter, eased to 0.4 percent on an annual basis in June, according to government data.

In June, Minister of Economy Sultan bin Saeed al-Mansouri cut his forecast for the country’s gross domestic product growth this year. He predicted expansion of around 3%, down from 4.2% in 2011, because of global weakness.

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