‘Signs of Life’ in the Saudi Economy as Indicators Point to Improvements, Growth

Recently-released monthly data show signs of life in Saudi Arabia’s economy, the Arab world’s largest, according to reports.

Jadwa Investment’s monthly chartbook for May 2019 shows “marginal economic improvements” with a surge in POS transactions by 19 percent year-on-year and mild improvement in the Kingdom’s non-oil PMI index in March.

The Kingdom also saw a net monthly change to government accounts with SAMA with a rise in March, by SR52 billion month-on-month, affected by an equal rise in government current deposits. SAMA FX reserves were up in March reaching around $500 billion, rising by $15 billion month-on-month, rising for the first time in seven months, and marking the highest monthly rise since September 2011, Jadwa said.

Non-oil PMI index improved mildly in March, continuing an upward trend since December 2018, and reaching its highest level since December 2017, according to Jadwa Investment.

Non-oil PMI index improved mildly in March, continuing an upward trend since December 2018, and reaching its highest level
since December 2017, according to Jadwa Investment.

Jadwa also found a slight increase in bank deposits, and credit to the private sector rose by 3.1 percent year-on-year, following an equal rise in February.

More good news was seen in inflation figures. Prices declined in March in Saudi Arabia by 2.1 percent year-on-year. “Considering the declining prices seen in Q1 2019, we have revised our full year inflation forecast to -1.7 percent, year-on-year,” Jadwa said.

“It’s far from booming, but things are finally starting to look up for Saudi Arabia’s non-oil economy,” Vivian Nereim writes in Bloomberg, citing Emirates NBD data which sees “slightly more positive picture” for growth. Bank lending to private businesses “grew last quarter at the fastest pace since 2016 and a gauge of economic activity rose the most in over a year. Consumer spending also improved, albeit slightly.”