DUBAI (Reuters) - Growth in the United Arab Emirates’s non-oil private sector slowed to a nine-year low in September, amid record low new orders reflecting soft demand, a survey showed on Thursday.
The seasonally adjusted IHS Markit UAE Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which covers manufacturing and services, fell slightly to 51.1, from 51.6 in August.
Although the non-oil sector remained in growth territory — figures above 50 indicate expansion and below that, contraction –- it was the UAE’s weakest growth rate since May 2010.
New orders were at the softest they have been since the survey began more than 10 years ago, demonstrating weak demand in the country’s non-oil economy.
Although it picked up from last month, output remained near a six-year low.
Employment growth was positive but weak, with most firms keeping employment unchanged following a contraction last month.
The UAE, which has the most diversified economy in the region, raised its expectations for economic growth in 2019 to 2.4% last month, driven by faster growth in the oil sector, after lowering them earlier this year.
The economy grew 1.7% in 2018, according to preliminary data released by the government.
“Companies reported further competitive pressures, while also seeing a slowdown in customer movement despite sustained price discounting,” said David Owen, economist at IHS Markit and author of the report.
“With this in mind, businesses were more downbeat toward the one-year outlook,” he added.
Reporting by Nafisa Eltahir; Editing by Catherine Evans