DUBAI (Reuters) – More than half of business people in the Gulf Arab region polled by HSBC expect profits to grow by more than 5 percent in 2007, the bank said on Saturday.
HSBC said 57 percent of 1,063 business people from the six Gulf countries said profit growth would exceed 5 percent, down slightly from 59 percent of respondents in the first quarter.
HSBC, which conducted the business confidence survey with polling company YouGov Siraj, said 52 percent of the respondents were planning to increase investment in their businesses in 2007 and 55 percent said they will hire more staff in the next 12 months.
HSBC’s Gulf business confidence index eased to 99 from 100 in the first quarter, with Qatar, at 114, reporting the strongest growth in confidence and Kuwait, at 95, the weakest. A score greater than 100 indicates a positive shift in confidence and below 100 a negative shift.
“We have seen a strong similarity in outlook between Q1 and Q2, indicating that business in the Gulf is in good shape and will continue to prosper,” Keith Bradley, regional head of commercial banking for HSBC Middle East, said in a statement.
Inflation was seen as the most significant risk, with 49 percent of businesses reporting it as a threat. Real estate costs were cited by 47 percent of respondents as having a negative impact on their business.