The PMA has released the results of its extended Business Cycle Index (extended PMABCI) for January 2018. This new index surveys, besides the industrial sector, additional six sectors which are: agriculture, trade, construction, transport and storage, IT and renewable energy. The results of this index revealed an increase during January in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip. As such, the overall extended PMABCI picked up from -10.0 points in December 2017 to -3.1 points in January 2018, however it remained below the corresponding month in 2017, when it stood at 0.9 points.
In the WB, the index increased from 1.7 points in to 6.8 points this month, owing to rises in all economic sectors' indices except of industry. The growth of the agriculture index proved to be the engine this month as it rose from 0.0 points to 4.5 points between December 2017 and January 2018. Meanwhile, other sectors' indices have slightly increased: (from 0.8 to 1.0 points) for the trade, (from -0.3 to -0.2 points) for the construction, (from 0.1 to 0.3 points) for the IT, (from -0.4 to 0.0 points) for the transport and storage and (from -0.02 to 0.02 points) for the renewable energy. Conversely, the industrial sector index limitedly fell from 1.6 points to 1.2 points during the comparison period.
The improvement in the West Bank's index mirrored higher sales during January and better future expectations about production and employment, as indicated by economic firms' owners.
Likewise, the volatile index in GS picked up notably from -37.6 points in December to -26.6 points in this January due to increases in all sectors' indices, except for the industry whose index dropped marginally by 0.3 point to -7.8 points. The rise in the trade index registered the highest improvement from -22.4 points to -17.7 points, followed by the agriculture index (from -3.9 to -1.0 points), the construction index (from -2.2 to -1.8 points) and the transport and storage index (from -1.2 to 0.2 points). Meanwhile, indices of IT and renewable energy increased insignificantly, from -0.4 to -0.1 points for the former, and from -0.04 to 0.04 points for the latter.
It is worth noting that the Gazan index mostly register a negative values, which reflects the adverse long-lasting political and economic conditions in the Strip, the continued Israeli siege, and the prolonged delays in reconstruction efforts. Nonetheless, future expectations about production and employment have improved for the near future, along with a limited improvement in production and sales levels this month, as indicated by Gazan firms' owners.
It is noteworthy that the extended PMABCI is a monthly index, which aims to capture the state and evolution of the economic activity in Palestine by tracking the performance (especially fluctuations in production and employment levels) of seven economic sectors. The maximum value of the index is positive 100 points, while the minimum is minus 100 points; a positive value indicates favorable economic performance, while a negative value indicates bad performance. On the other hand, a value close to zero indicates that economic performance did not change and is unlikely to do so in the near future.