Saudi economy records sharpest rise in new work in four years

The Saudi economy is rebounding from a sharp slowdown that was triggered by the collapse of oil prices in 2014. (AFP)
Updated 03 December 2019

Saudi economy records sharpest rise in new work in four years

  • Headline seasonally adjusted Purchasing Managers’ Index posted 58.3 in November, up from 57.8 in October
  • Saudi economy is rebounding from a sharp slowdown that was triggered by the collapse of oil prices in 2014

LONDON: The Saudi economy recorded its biggest increase in new work in more than four years in November according to a report from IHS Markit.

The headline seasonally adjusted Purchasing Managers’ Index – a composite gauge designed to give a snapshot of operating conditions in the non-oil private sector economy – posted 58.3 in November, up from 57.8 in October.

“A bright spot was a quickening of overall new order growth, which reached its fastest pace since April 2015,” said IHS MArkit economist Amritpal Virdee.

The Saudi economy is rebounding from a sharp slowdown that was triggered by the collapse of oil prices in 2014 that led to many projects being shelved or delayed. The stabilization of oil prices, helped by the ongoing production cuts orchestrated by OPEC and Russia, has boosted spending while at the same time ongoing reforms is making it easier for foreign companies to do business in the Kingdom.

Employment among non-oil private sector companies rose in November, but the rate of job creation was marginal and subdued by historical standards. and the highest in over four years, IHS Markit said.

Firms across the non-oil private sector scaled up their purchasing activity to support increased output requirements according to reports from surveyed businesses. However, growth in buying levels eased.

Some evidence emerged of rising prices with the latest data showing the third increase in charges for goods and services in the past four months.

However, the rise in selling prices was marginal.

Overall input prices continued to increase in November, but the rate of inflation eased for the second month running and was subdued by historical standards. Finally, November’s survey indicated longer lead times on purchased items for the first time since July 2011, which anecdotal evidence attributed to insufficient stocks among suppliers

“Overall, the private sector economy is well-placed as we look forward to 2020, with the survey’s forward-looking gauge, the Future Output Index rising to a nine-month high on the pace of new product initiatives and more positive forecasts for underlying demand,” added Virdee.

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Aramco profits fall in tough quarter, but sees partial recovery from COVID-19 impact

Updated 29 min 23 sec ago

Aramco profits fall in tough quarter, but sees partial recovery from COVID-19 impact

  • Aramco see’s “partial recovery” from pandemic impact
  • Aramco president says company remains resilient

DUBAI: Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil company, reported a net income of $6.57bn for the second quarter of 2020, the period which witnessed the most volatile oil market conditions for many decades.

The result, announced to the Tadawul stock exchange in Riyadh where the shares are listed, compared with income of $24.7 bn last year.

Amin Nasser, president and chief executive, said: “Despite COVID-19 bringing the world to a standstill, Aramco kept going. We have proven our financial resilience and operational reliability, setting a record in our business operations, while at the same time taking steps to ensure the health and safety of our people.”

Aramco’s dividend - a big attraction for the investors who bought into the world’s biggest initial public offering last year - will remain as pledged, Nasser added. Cash flow in the quarter amounted to $6.106 bn.

““Strong headwinds from reduced demand and lower oil prices are reflected in our second quarter results. Yet we delivered solid earnings because of our low production costs, unique scale, agile workforce, and unrivalled financial and operational strength. This helped us deliver on our plan to maintain a second quarter dividend of $18.75 billion to be paid in the third quarter,” he said.

Aramco said the loss was “mainly reflecting the impact of lower crude oil prices and declining refining and chemicals margins, partly offset by a decrease in production royalties resulting from lower crude oil prices and a decrease in the royalty rate from 20 per cent to 15 per cent, lower income taxes and zakat as a result of lower earnings, and higher other income related to sales for gas products.”

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Sales and revenue in the period - which saw oil prices collapse on “Black Monday” in April - fell 57 per cent to $32.861 bn from the comparable period last year. 

Nasser said he was cautiously optimistic that the world economy was slowly recovering from the depths of the pandemic lockdowns.

“We are seeing a partial recovery in the energy market as countries around the world take steps to ease restrictions and reboot their economies. Meanwhile, we continue to place people’s safety first and have adapted to the new normal, implementing wide-ranging precautions to limit the spread of COVID-19 wherever we operate.

“We are determined to emerge from the pandemic stronger and will continue making progress on our long-term strategic journey, through ongoing investments in our business – which has one of the lowest upstream carbon footprints in the world,” he added.

Aramco expects capital expenditure to be at the lower end of the $25bn to $30bn range it has already indicated for this year.