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Daniel Richards - MENA Economist
Published Date: 09 November 2022
The S&P Global PMI survey for Dubai slipped once more in October, falling to a five-month low of 56.0. However, this indicated only a modest slowdown from the 56.2 recorded in September, and it remains comfortably higher than the five-year average, indicating an ongoing robust expansion in the economy.
Various pressures will likely see the slowdown become more pronounced in the coming months.Dubai is exposed to the dollar strength which could deter tourists and slow exports; rising interest rates as the UAE central bank hikes in line with the Federal Reserve; and the generally deteriorating external environment which will impact other industries such as logistics. Firms responding to the survey have also trimmed their expectations for future output: business expectations fell in October and are some way below the long-run average. Nevertheless, for now it appears that growth will remain strong given the expansion in new orders seen last month. These rose at a faster pace in October when compared with September and led firms to hire at the fastest pace since November 2019.
Source: S&P Global, Emirates NBD Research
With regards prices, Dubai firms continue to offer discounts in order to encourage sales as they cut prices charged for the third month in a row, and the pace of output price falls was the fastest in over two years. There was greater space to do this as input costs declined month-on-month, marginally. With UAE petrol prices having risen by nearly 10% in November, firms might see their margins harder pressed in the coming months.
The tourism sector PMI for October improved on the previous month as the headline reading rose to 56.0, up from the eight-month low of 55.3 in September. It was the second-strongest among the three industries covered, but will likely see a fillip through November and December as Dubai benefits from the FIFA World Cup happening in Qatar. Employment rose at the fastest pace since November 2019 as new work continued to rise at a faster pace than the previous month, albeit still slower than through the rest of the year. Discounting was at the sharpest rate since January as input prices fell once more.
Construction activity picked up to 53.6 in October, from 53.3 the previous month. Hiring was at a robust level here also, rising at the quickest pace in almost four years, but new orders rose comparatively slowly, in line with the previous month. The rise in output prices, the only sector to charge customers more, could have weighed on demand growth. Business expectations were the weakest among the three sectors, at the lowest level since May 2021.
Wholesale & retail was once again the strongest performing sector of the three in October, as it expanded at the fastest pace since July 2019. The headline reading was 58.0, up from 57.3 in September. This will have been boosted by a very sharp fall in selling prices as firms engaged in promotions and discounting to encourage customers – output prices were at the lowest level since November 2018. With new orders accelerating compared to September, firms increased headcount for the 16th month in a row. However, business expectations fell to a three-month low, perhaps weighed down by ongoing input price rises. This was the only sector to see higher input prices in October.
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