Growth in business activity in Saudi Arabia's non-oil private sector jumped to a nine-month high in April, boosted by strong output and new orders, a survey of over 400 private companies published on Saturday showed.
The SABB HSBC Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers' Index, which measures activity in the manufacturing and services sectors, rose to 60.42 in April from 58.73 in March. The seasonally adjusted index stayed well above the 50-point mark distinguishing growth from contraction.
New order growth was the highest since June 2011, at 70.13 points in April against 66.87 in March. "Respondents commented on improved demand conditions and more business from government contracts," the survey said, adding that data suggested the domestic market remained a key driver for new order growth.
Output growth levels also climbed, reaching 65.20 in April from 62.68 in March. The employment index rose sharply to 55.76 from 52.46.
Analysts in a Reuters poll conducted in March predicted Saudi Arabia's gross domestic product would expand 4.5 percent this year, after an officially estimated 6.8 percent last year. But the kingdom's Economy and Planning Minister Mohammed al-Jasser told reporters last month that the economy was at present headed for 6 percent growth this year.