Oman's economy contracted 1.9% in first half of 2019: central bank

RIYADH (Reuters) - Oman’s economy contracted by 1.9% in nominal terms in the first half of the year as the non-oil sector shrank, the central bank said on Monday.

The Gulf state’s finances have been hurt by a slump in oil prices in recent years, but the economic decline this year emanated “from the non-petroleum industrial activities and services sector”, the central bank said.

It said the non-hydrocarbon sector of the economy contracted 3.4% in nominal terms in January-June. The hydrocarbon sector grew 2.1% in the same period, with nominal gross domestic product (GDP) from crude oil and natural gas increasing by 1.5% and 5.6%, respectively, it said.

Despite its access to financial markets -- it sold a $3 billion bond in July -- Oman’s fiscal position remains weak and its debt is rated “junk” by rating agencies.

The central bank told Reuters in September it expected real gross domestic product growth of 1.1% this year, down from an estimated 2.2% last year.

Reporting by Davide Barbuscia; Editing by Catherine Evans