Saudi Arabia's non-oil private sector decreased in January to its lowest level in over a year, thanks to weaker new business growth, job creation and outlook, survey results from IHS Markit showed on Tuesday.
The Purchasing Managers' Index fell to 54.9 in January from 56.9 in December. The reading signaled the lowest in thirteen months. Any reading above 50 indicates expansion in the sector.
New business growth decreased due to strong competition and more cautious spending patterns among customers in the beginning of the year, and export sales dropped slightly in the non-oil private sector.
Business activity rose in January, but the rate of expansion remained the lowest in fourteen months as seen in December.
New order growth softened in January, but led to a rise in number of employed. That said, the job creation was the weakest since August. Input buying increased at the slowest rate for 12 months.
On the price front, average cost burdens remained stable in January and prices charged by non-oil private sector companies increased slightly.
Businesses remained confident about their growth prospects in the coming 12 months and the degree of positive sentiment dropped in January and was the lowest in one-and-a-half years.
"Non-oil firms in Saudi Arabia are optimistic about the business outlook for 2020, but levels of confidence have dropped since December, which acted as a brake on staff hiring and input buying at the start of the year," IHS Markit Director Tim Moore said.