Doha's business activity was seen cooling off this January, following the conclusion of the FIFA World Cup, but the 12-month outlook soars to the highest in three years, signalling the ongoing growth, particularly in financial services, according to the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC).
The first batch of Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) survey data from the QFC for 2023 also indicated a relative improvement in the jobs market as the respective employment index posted its largest ever one-month gain to reach a six-month high.
The Qatar PMI indices are compiled from survey responses from a panel of around 450 private sector entities. The panel covers the manufacturing, construction, wholesale, retail, and services sectors, and reflects the structure of the non-energy economy according to the official national accounts data.
The headline QFC PMI, which is a composite single-figure indicator of non-energy private sector performance, is derived from indicators for new orders, output, employment, suppliers’ delivery times and stocks of purchases.
"Although January saw moderations in current levels of activity and new business, these should be viewed in the context of a very strong 2022, the best calendar year so far during the survey’s six-year history,” said Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida, QFC Authority chief executive officer.
The PMI posted a correction to 45.7 in January, from 49.6 in December, indicating a moderation in overall business conditions as activity and new work cooled following the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 tournament.
The latest reading was the lowest in 31 months but should be viewed in the context of a stellar 2022 calendar year when the PMI trended at 57.7, the highest annual average sine the survey began in April 2017.
The PMI survey said forward-looking data continued to highlight improving prospects for the non-energy private sector in January.
The Future Output index rose for the sixth month running to a three-year high of 74.9, indicating a strong degree of optimism as companies reported new business opportunities arising from the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.
"Moreover, the month-on-month rise in the Index was the second largest on record. Sentiment improved across all four sub-sectors and was especially strong in manufacturing," it said.
Stamping "strongest" outlook for the financial services in over three years; it said the sector continued to expand at a marked rate in January and the 12-month outlook strengthened "noticeably".
The activity increased for the 19th successive month, and at a rapid pace, while expectations for activity surged to the highest since August 2019.
"The financial services industry in Qatar is experiencing a significant boost in growth and expansion," al-Jaida said.
New business grew for the thirty-second consecutive month in January, and at the fastest rate since last August. Meanwhile, financial services firms expanded their headcounts at the sharpest rate in 15 months.
On the prospects in the labour market, the survey said the drop in the headline PMI figure was cushioned by a record one-month rise of 4.1 points in the employment index, the third-largest component with a 20% weight.
The overall labour market conditions were the best in six months, and headcounts rose in the services and wholesale and retail sectors, according to it.
The positive indicators “along with the rise in employment index, reflects a strong degree of optimism as companies reported new business opportunities arising from the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022,” al-Jaida said.
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