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MENAFN - Arab News - 05/12/2013

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(MENAFN - Arab News) Saudi Arabia's gross domestic product grew 3.19 percent in the third quarter of 2013 in current prices compared with a 2.7 percent rise in the previous three months, the Central Department of Statistics reported.

The GDP value rose from SR675.19 billion in the third quarter of 2012 to SR696.7 billion. During the same period the GDP rose by 3.05 percent in real prices, the department said.

In the public sector the GDP fell by 18.52 percent to SR102.6 billion in current prices, compared to the same period in 2012. However, in real prices it showed a growth of 2.43 percent.

The private sector, on the other hand, achieved a growth of 6.53 percent
in current prices in the third quarter of 2013 to reach SR244.08 billion compared to the figure of previous year, SR229.13 billion.

The construction and building sector and downstream industries showed big growth at the rate of 9.76 percent and 7.87 percent respectively. In stable prices, the sector's growth rose by 3.31 percent.

The Kingdom's oil sector grew by 9.54 percent to SR344.35 billion, compared to SR314.36 billion. In stable prices, the growth was 3.05 percent, the report said.

Finance Minister Ibrahim Al-Assaf has predicted that Saudi Arabia would achieve a GDP growth of 3.6 percent in 2013 down from 5.1 percent in the previous year. He attributed the decrease to slower oil output.

However, he believed that the economy would grow by 4.4 percent next year. The Kingdom's inflation remains in check at 3.6 percent, the minister pointed out. A 9.6 percent surplus is expected in the current budget.

The department also pointed out the demand in local market rose by 2.17 percent to SR530.45 billion in current prices, with total government spending on consumption reaching SR141.19 billion, 17.67 percent less than the amount of the previous year (SR171.49 billion). At the same time, capital spending rose by 16.07 percent to SR185.14 billion compared to SR159.5 billion in the previous year.

"Oil is the one pushing the headline numbers, but there is an evident moderation in the nonoil sector," John Sfakianakis, chief investment strategist at Masic, told Reuters, while commenting on the department's report.

The 711 billion Saudi economy, which has been pegging its currency, the riyal, to the US dollar for decades, grew 5.7 percent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2012 and 5.1 percent in all of last year.

Quarter-on-quarter, Saudi real GDP grew 1.1 percent in July-September 2013, reversing the same decline in the previous quarter, according to a Reuters calculation based on the official data. Performance of the top Arab economy is closely linked to energy prices, crude oil output and government spending, which has been growing strongly in the past years.

"The figures reflect the high level of spending in 2012. There was also a degree of disruption caused by labor market policies in the third quarter of this year," Paul Gamble, director, sovereign group at Fitch Ratings in London, told Reuters.


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