(Corrects lead to say pace of slowdown dropped, not picked up)

CAIRO, Dec 6 (Reuters) – Egypt’s non-oil private-sector activity shrank again in November, but the pace of the slowdown dropped, leaving an index of activity at its highest since August though still in contraction territory, a survey showed on Thursday.

The Emirates NBD Egypt Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for the non-oil private sector strengthened to 49.2 in November from 48.6 in October, staying just below the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction.

November’s PMI reading marks the third consecutive month of contraction, following expansionary readings in July and August.

The fact that the headline index reached a three-month high is “encouraging, although the overall survey still points to soft business conditions for the private sector in Egypt,” said Khatija Haque, MENA economist at Emirates NBD.

“Although the declines in output and new work were relatively modest, the employment index fell to its lowest level since March,” Haque said. “More positively, inflationary pressures appear to be easing.”

The PMI has had an average reading of 48.0 since Egypt began an economic reform programme linked to a $12 billion loan agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

– Detailed PMI data are only available under licence from Markit and customers need to apply to Markit for a licence.

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– For further information, please phone Markit on +44 20 7260 2454 or email economics@markit.com (Reporting by Yousef Saba, editing by Larry King)


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