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Feb 04 2013

Qatar business sentiment 'cautiously optimistic'

By Santhosh V Perumal Qatar business sentiment 'cautiously optimistic'
Qatar Inc remains "cautiously optimistic" in the first quarter (Q1), amid uncertain global growth, with business sentiments improving among the non-hydrocarbon sector, while the oil segment largely maintained status-quo vis-à-vis last quarter of 2012.

The Business Optimism Index (BOI), jointly prepared by the Qatar Financial Centre Authority ( QFCA ) and Dun & Bradstreet, found the composite score for the hydrocarbon sector at 15 points in Q1 against 17 in the previous quarter.

The index for net profits for Q1 declined to 20 from 48 in Q4 2012; while the BOI for selling prices gained 22 points to 12 in Q1. The hiring outlook was also muted as its index fell to 15 from 40 in Q4 2012.

"The (hydrocarbon) sector optimism tracks sideways in Q1, 2013," it said, adding key concerns were the fluctuating demand for products and availability of finance.

An across-the-board improvement in sales volume, new orders, selling prices, net profits, employments and inventories led to strong business outlook in the non-hydrocarbon sector, the BOI shows.

"With improvement in the overall business outlook for Q1, 2013, a large proportion of non-hydrocarbon sector business units feel that their businesses will not face any negative impact in Q1 2013," it said.

Within the non-oil segment, the BOI improved in the case of manufacturing (on strong sales and new orders outlook); construction (with sales and demand outlook supporting the most); trade and hospitality (on strong domestic demand, pricing and profitability); transport and communication (on high sales, new orders and profitability); and finance, realty and business services (profitability).

"Despite the challenging global economic environment, Qatari businesses sentiment is generally optimistic for Q1, 2013," Yousuf al-Jaida, director (strategic development), QFC Authority , said.

The improved sentiments, especially in the private sector and non-hydrocarbon sectors reflect the stable measures adopted by Qatar in diversifying the income resources; according to Sheikh Mohamad bin Faisal bin Qassim al-Thani, a Qatari Businessmen Association representative.

"As observed in the last two quarters, we continue to see high optimism among businesses in transport and communications. The survey also reflects rising optimism in trade and hospitality as well as the manufacturing sector," Prashant Kumar, associate director (Middle East), Dun & Bradstreet South Asia Middle East, said.

Among the issues expected to adversely affect operations in Q1, 2013, 42% of the non-hydrocarbon sector respondents do not anticipate any negative factors impacting business operations.

Sentiments related to investment in business expansion have remained steady when compared with the previous quarter with 48% of the non-hydrocarbon companies viewing that that they would invest in business expansion in Q1 2013 compared with 44% in Q4 2012.

In the hydrocarbon segment, 38% of the respondents do not foresee any negative factors impacting business operations in Q1 2013; the corresponding figure for the previous quarter stood at 42%.

© Gulf Times 2013


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