The operating conditions of the private sector kept on deteriorating during the first month of 2016, however the rate of contraction seemed to be slowing. In fact, the BLOM PMI hovered close to neutrality in January, posting a 49.1 reading compared to a previous 47.9 in December 2015. This resulted from slowing declines in companies’ output and new orders, which offset the fastening slump of exports, noting that the prices of products and services barely changed over the month. Commenting on January’s results, Maya Mantach, Head of Equities at BLOMINVEST BANK, said: “Despite remaining in the contraction area, January’s PMI stood above 2015’s average. Hopefully this will be the start of a more optimistic trend in the private sector’s performance this year. However, we noticed that foreign demand for Lebanese products and services failed to improve this month, most probably due to the regional tensions and the decline in oil prices. This creates a higher sense of urgency to revive local demand, by solving the presidential dilemma and moving forward to other pressing issues”.
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