World Economy

Oil slump sends Saudi Arabia's PMI to all-time low


Plummeting oil revenues saw growth of Saudi Arabia's non-oil private sector ease to a record low in October, according to a key indicator out on Tuesday.

The Emirates NBD Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) dropped for a second straight month, to 55.7 from 56.5 in September. Last month's reading was the lowest since the survey launched in 2009, although growth remained positive.

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"The October PMI data points to a slower rate of growth in the non-oil private sector as we head into the fourth quarter, which is unsurprising in the context of sharply lower oil revenues and tighter liquidity conditions," Khatija Haque, head of MENA research at Emirates NBD, said in a report on Tuesday.

Output and employment growth both fell in October. In addition new orders rose at the slowest pace since the survey began six years ago.

Meanwhile, total cost pressures intensified in October, despite reports that greater competition had limited inflationary pressures.

"Declines in employment and quantity of purchases by businesses indicate anticipation of further weakness to come," said Simon Williams and Razan Nasser, economists at HSBC, in a note out after the PMI data.

"The weaker readings are in line with our view that the impact of the dramatic loss of oil income on economic activity would start to become more marked in Q4 2015."

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Saudi Arabia is the world's largest petroleum export and the oil and gas sector accounts for around 50 percent of its gross domestic product and 85 percent if its export earnings, according to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Prices for Brent and WTI crude oil have fallen by around 40 percent over the last 12 months and the plunge has sharply worsened Saudi Arabia's budget deficit.

Saudia Arabia's economic growth has slowed dramatically in recent years, from a peak of 10 percent in 2011 to 3.5 percent last year. Its economy is forecast to have grown 3.4 percent in 2015 by the International Monetary Fund.

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— By CNBC's Katy Barnato. Follow her on Twitter @KatyBarnato.