By Pratap John/Chief Business Reporter
Qatar’s crude oil production edged up to 637,000 bpd in January from 632,000 bpd in December, QNB has said in its monthly monitor.
Brent crude oil prices picked up to $36 per barrel in end-February compared with $34.7 a month earlier, QNB said.
“We expect oil prices to stabilise as excess supply in the global market is reduced by both higher demand and production cuts among high-cost producers, such as US shale oil producers,” QNB said.
According to QNB, Qatar’s international reserves fell to $36.7bn in January compared with $37.1bn in December.
In months of prospective import cover, international reserves fell to 6.3 months of imports in January from 6.4 months in December.
“We expect international reserves to stabilise going forward as oil prices recover,” QNB said.
Qatar’s foreign merchandise trade surplus fell to $2bn in January from $2.4bn in December, and is down from $4.8bn a year earlier. The year-on-year decline was due to the fall in exports, which decreased by 33.6% year-on-year on lower oil prices while imports rose by 10.1% over the same period. QNB expects the merchandise trade surplus to stabilise in 2016 in line with oil prices.
The overall balance of payments recorded a small deficit of $1.7bn in Q3, 2015, leading to a decrease in international reserves, QNB said.
The current account surplus narrowed to $2.8bn in Q3, 2015 on lower hydrocarbon exports; the capital and financial account recorded a deficit of $3.9bn over the same period.
“We expect the current account surplus to narrow in 2015, before stabilising in 2016-17,” QNB said.
Broad money (M2) growth slowed to 0.4% in January from 3.4% in December, it said and added the slowdown was mostly attributable to the contraction in quasi money growth by 2.9% in January from an expansion of 3.9% in December.
The growth in M1 picked up to 10.5% in January from 2.1% in December with QNB expecting M2 to continue growing as strong population growth is projected to drive the expansion in deposits.
QNB data showed local banks’ assets grew 14.7% in January from 10.8% in December last year. Foreign assets grew by 18.9% year-on-year, driven by expansion in credit (31%); while domestic assets grew by 15.3%, driven by the growth in domestic credit (16.8%).
“We expect bank assets to continue growing rapidly, driven by lending related to investment projects and population growth,” QNB said.
Bank loan growth rose to 18.3% year-on-year in January from 15.2% in December, QNB said.
“Loans to the public sector grew by 13.8% year-on-year, lending to the private and foreign sectors also grew by 18.5% and 31% respectively. We forecast bank lending to continue growing, driven by lending related to investment projects and population growth,” QNB said. Local bank deposits y-o-y growth picked up to 9.1% in January from 8.2% in December.
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