Qatar saw new business growth accelerate further within the non-energy private sector in April; indicating a stronger improvement in business conditions on the back of strong demand for goods and services, according to the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC).
The latest Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) survey data from the QFC said indices for total activity and the 12-month outlook also remained firmly positive, while employment rose further.
The Qatar PMI indices are compiled from survey responses from a panel of around 450 private sector companies. The panel covers the manufacturing, construction, wholesale, retail, and services sectors, and reflects the structure of the non-energy economy according to official national accounts data.
"Overall business conditions across the non-energy private sector gained momentum at the start of the second quarter, mainly thanks to an acceleration in demand growth," Yousuf Mohamed al-Jaida, chief executive officer, QFC Authority, said.
The headline PMI, a composite single-figure indicator of non-energy private sector performance, rose for the fifth time in six months to 54.4 in April, from 53.8 in March, indicating the strongest improvement in business conditions since July 2022. The latest figure moved further above the long-run trend of 52.2.
The main boost to the PMI was from faster growth in new business, while the employment and stocks of purchases components also had positive directional influences. The output component eased slightly since March but remained above its long-run trend, with financial services again a key growth driver.
New business increased at the fastest rate in nine months in April. Companies reported receiving large orders, expanded customer bases and rising demand due to the implementation of new projects. New products were also mentioned as sources of growth.
The 12-month outlook for the non-energy private sector remained strongly positive. The Future Output index eased further from February's 41-month high but the average for 2023 so far, at 71.7, was well above the long-run trend of 64.6. By sector, confidence in April was strongest among manufacturers.
April data indicated a third successive monthly increase in average wages and salaries, with pay pressures greater than the long-run trend. The employment index, tracking the overall level of staffing, rose to a nine-month high, signalling another increase in workforce numbers.
Continuing the trend shown during 2023 so far, average input prices rose in April. That said, inflationary pressures remained modest and broadly in line with the long-run survey trend. Meanwhile, firms increased their charges for goods and services, having cut them in March.
Although stronger new business inflows put pressure on capacity, companies were still able to reduce their levels of outstanding business for the ninth month running in April due to productivity improvements and increased workforces.
The financial services sector in Qatar continued to expand at a marked rate in April as the volume of new business increased for the thirty-fifth consecutive month and at the fastest rate since last August. Overall financial services activity increased for the twenty-second successive month, and at a strong pace, while expectations remained firmly positive.
"The financial services sector continued to grow at a faster rate than the overall private sector economy in April, both in terms of total activity and new work, with the financial services new business index reaching 61.3," al-Jaida said.
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