DUBAI - Saudi Arabia's non-oil private sector expanded a little faster in October as growth in employment and new orders picked up, a monthly survey of companies showed on Monday.
The seasonally adjusted Emirates NBD Saudi Arabia Purchasing Managers' Index rose to 53.8 last month from 53.4 in September. A level above 50 indicates expansion.
Output growth slowed to 56.1 from 56.7, but growth of new orders climbed to 56.7 from 55.1. Employment growth accelerated to a seven-month high of 51.3 from 50.7.
Khatija Haque, head of regional research at Emirates NBD, said the employment reading still indicated only a modest increase in jobs, with just 3.1 percent of firms indicating they had hired more staff last month.
"Staff costs, a good proxy for wages, remained below the neutral 50.0 level for the second month in a row, pointing to fractional wage deflation on average in the private sector," she said.
Companies' optimism about future output increased in October, however, with nearly half of all firms expecting their output to be higher in a year's time while half expected current levels of output to be sustained.
Haque said this was probably due to a further rise in oil prices last month and a pre-budget statement by the government signalling higher state spending in 2019.
Output prices rose outright in October for the first time in four months, while input prices fell outright for the first time since the survey was launched in August 2009.
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(Reporting by Andrew Torchia; Editing by Catherine Evans) ((email@example.com; +9715 6681 7277; Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org))