Posted on April 09, 2016

Qatar's crude oil production increased to 692,000 bpd in February compared with 637,000 bpd in January, QNB has said in a new report. Brent crude oil prices picked up to $39.6 a barrel at the end of March this year compared to $36 a month earlier, according to QNB's 'Qatar Monthly Monitor'. QNB expects oil prices to stabilise as excess supply in the global market is reduced by both higher demand and production cuts among high-cost producers, such as US shale oil producers. The report showed Qatar's international reserves were stable at $36.7bn in February 2016 compared to the previous month. In months of prospective import cover, international reserves were also stable at 6.3 months of imports from a month earlier.

"We expect international reserves to stabilise going forward as oil prices recover," QNB said. Qatar's trade surplus stabilised at $2bn in February compared to a month earlier, but was down $4.4bn relative to a year earlier. The year-on-year decline was due to the fall in exports, which fell by 32.5% year-on-year (y-o-y) on lower oil prices, while imports rose by 3.5% over the same period. "We expect the merchandise trade surplus to rise in 2016 as oil prices recover," QNB said. The Qatar Central Bank's real estate index rose by 14.3% year-on-year in December 2015 slowing down from 17.8% in November. The real estate price index contracted by 5.9% in December 2015 compared to a month earlier, according to the QCB. Consumer price index (CPI) inflation rose to 3.3% in February from 2.8% in January.

Housing and utilities price inflation (21.9% weight in the CPI basket) slowed to 5.7% in February (compared with 6% in January); recreation and culture price inflation (12.7% weight) rose by 9.4% in February (vs 6.1% in January) and food and beverages price inflation (12.6% weight) rose to -1.3% in February from -1.4% in January. "We expect inflation to pick up on the projected recovery in international food prices in 2016 and higher oil prices in 2017 as well as the one-off effects of increases in fuel, electricity and water prices," QNB said. Broad money contracted by 2.5% in Qatar in February, mainly due to a contraction in foreign currency deposits, QNB said.

Broad money (M2) growth contracted by 2.5% in February after a 0.4% rise in January, QNB said. The slowdown was mostly attributable to the contraction in foreign currency deposits of 17.7% in February, and the slowdown in demand deposit growth from 11.1% in January to 3.7% in February. "We expect M2 to rebound as strong population growth is projected to drive an expansion in deposits, QNB said.

source: Gulf Times