Confidence in the United Arab Emirates has reached a 34-month high.
According to a survey by Emirates NBD, the non-oil private sector saw a step-up in growth during April - a result of improvements in employment, output and new business.
Khatija Haque, head of Mena research at Emirates NBD, said “the improvement in business condition in the UAE in April was driven by strong output and new order growth, including a recovery in export orders. The rise in employment and selling prices, although modest, is also encouraging."
As a result, the confidence has risen in the overall economic prospects of the region. Emirates NBD UAE Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) rose to 55.1 in April, from 54.8 the previous month.
Emirates NBD, which is one of the largest banking groups in the Middle East, also said in their report that “in April, backlogs of work increased at the fastest rate in 32 months, linked to steeper new order growth. Inflationary pressures sharpened as businesses and input suppliers capitalised on stronger demand conditions in the non-oil private sector."
The report notes that April saw an increase recorded in new order books from both domestic and foreign sources. Rising above the long-run average, internal demand for goods and services grew markedly, while foreign business returned to growth - increasing at a more moderate rate.
"Reflecting rising output requirements in the non-oil private sector, job creation picked up in April's survey, following the 17-month low in March. Despite the rise in employment, robust demand continued to place pressure on operating capacity, as signalled by the strongest rise in backlogs of work for 32 months," said the bank’s report.
Confidence in the UAE is now at an elevated level, according to the latest Global Economic Conditions Survey (GECS), from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Institute of Management Accountants.
The survey notes that "the pick-up in confidence in the UAE is due in part to the fading impact of last year's Opec production cuts. Other reasons include an increase in non-oil exports on the back of strong global growth, extra spending ahead of the 2020 World Expo and a less restrictive fiscal policy".
Additionally, according to the International Monetary Fund, the UAE non-oil economy is set for a projected growth of 2.8% in 2018, rising to 3.3% in 2019 after its 1.9% slowdown in 2017.
Key to this resilience is Dubai - a key driver in the wider UAE’s growth. The city’s non-oil economy is set to grow a record 3.7% in 2018, 0.4% up on the preceding one, the IMF have noted.
Both input cost and output charges increased during April, with average cost burdens on non-oil private sector companies increased moderately. This was largely noted to be a result of increased operating costs - a product of rising raw material prices, alongside the demand for higher staff wages.
As a result, firms raised their output charges for the first time since January 2018. The output price inflation remained modest.
"Positive sentiment towards future growth prospects improved sharply in the latest survey. An expected economic upturn, new product launches and improved marketing strategies underpinned business confidence in April," the Emirates NBD survey produced by IHS Markit said.