(MENAFN - The Peninsula) Qatar's international reserves rose by 9bn since end-2012 to 42.1bn at end-2013, reflecting a strong current account surplus and lower capital outflows. The current account surplus is expected to have registered a strong surplus due to large hydrocarbon exports offsetting growing imports.
QNB's "Qatar Monthly Monitor" noted yesterday that the country's international reserves have been steadily rising over the years on large current-account surpluses. Going forward, QNB Group expects international reserves to continue rising gradually in 2014.
On the stock market performance, QNB noted: "After a strong performance in 2013, Qatar Exchange (QE) index exhibited another strong performance in January 2014. Furthermore, foreign investors remained bullish. In the first month of 2014, the QE witnessed net foreign portfolio investment inflow of 532.2m.
GCC markets started the year on a positive note with all regional indices posting strong performance during January 2014. Dubai's benchmark index (DFMG) was the top performer, surging by 11.9 percent month-on-month. DFMGI was the best performing regional index in 2013 with a gain of 107.7 percent.
On the population rate in January, QNB noted the number of people in Qatar grew by 5.9 percent year-on-year at end-January 2014 to reach 2.01m. The January figure represents a slowdown from the double-digit population growth reached in 2013, driven up by the large ramp up in infrastructure spending in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
QNB group forecasts an average growth in the resident population of 10.1 percent for 2014. The larger population will lead to higher economic growth by boosting aggregate demand and investment in housing and services.
Rent inflation has slowed in recent months in line with QNB Group projections, tracking movements in the underlying price of land. However, a recovery in land prices in December and January could reverse the slowdown in rent inflation by mid-2014.
QNB Group has anlaysed data purely on land transactions in Qatar, based on weekly statistics published by the Ministry of Justice. Land prices are a fundamental driver of rents in Qatar with a six-month lag. Falling land prices in the second-half of 2013 are likely to slow rent inflation over the next few months. However, this is expected to come to an end by mid-2014, when rental inflation is likely to accelerate again