In a clear indication of Qatar’s improving international investment position, the Qatar Central Bank’s foreign exchange reserves increased to $37.6bn in December, up from $36.9bn in the previous month, a QNB report has shown.
The QCB's forex reserves equate to more than six and a half months of import cover, QNB said in its latest ‘Qatar Monthly Monitor’.
The report shows that Qatar’s current account surplus widened to 5.3% of GDP in the third quarter (Q3) of last year from 2.5% in Q2, 2017 while the deficit in the financial account narrowed.
The fiscal deficit widened in the third quarter (Q3) of 2017 to 6.9% of GDP from 4.1% in Q2, 2017, QNB said.
Both the country’s exports and imports increased year-on-year in December, indicating heightened economic activity in the country.
Imports increased 28.8% year-on-year (y-o-y) in December while exports grew 34.5% y-o-y, the report said.
The country’s banking sector also grew in terms of deposits and loans as well as assets in December.
Bank assets in Qatar expanded to $374.6bn in December, up 8% year-on-year, QNB said.
Credit growth recorded by the Qatari banking system was 8.6% y-o-y in December, primarily driven by higher lending (up 16.2% y-o-y) to the public sector.
Bank deposit growth was 13.2% in December last year while non-resident and private sector deposits grew 1.6% month-on-month (m-o-m) and 3.2% m-o-m in December respectively.
Broad money supply (M2) grew to 21.3% in December, up from 18.8% in November.
The overnight interbank rate remained flat at 2.08%, while the three-month interbank rate declined to 2.5% in December from 2.75% in November last year, QNB said.
The report showed that Qatar’s oil production rose to 596,000 bpd in October last year compared to 571,000 bpd in September.
Brent crude prices continued to rise, averaging $69.1 for a barrel in December. If the trend continues, Qatar will generate a surplus as the budget for the current fiscal (2018) has taken $45 as the conservative oil price.
Qatar’s real gross domestic product picked up in Q3 mainly due to a recovery in the hydrocarbon sector.
Non-hydrocarbon real GDP growth remained broadly flat in Q3, the report noted.
Industrial production surged to 7.4% y-o-y growth in Q3 on a rebound in the mining sector mainly due to less maintenance on LNG trains, the report said.
Qatar’s inflation rose to 0.9% in January this year from 0.6% in December, with food prices rising 5.8% and housing and utility prices declining 5.4%.
Qatar’s real estate price index rose 1.8% m-o-m in December last year, showing improving activity in one of the key segments of the economy.
But in the hospitality segment, 5-star and 4-star hotel occupancy rates remained flat at 56% and 59% respectively in December, the report showed.
Qatar’s population grew 2.6% y-o-y, reaching 2.64mn in January, QNB said and noted women made up close to 25% of the total population.