Despite the sharp decline in oil prices in December, UAE businesses were increasing production and ordering more goods, a benchmark measure for growth in the country’s non-oil economy showed. The HSBC Purchasing Managers’ Index rose to 58.4 in December, the bank said. While that was little changed from 58.3 in November, readings above 50 indicate an overall improvement in business conditions. “We expect lower oil prices to weigh on the economy into 2015, but for now demand is holding up well,” said Simon Williams, HSBC’s chief economist for the Middle East & North Africa. “That new orders as well as output have remained strong is particularly encouraging.” The price of oil, upon which the economy of the UAE is highly dependent, in December alone dropped 23 per cent while during the whole of 2014 it fell 46 per cent. More than 60 per cent of the UAE’s Federal budget is financed from oilrevenues, but so far there has been no evidence of a cutback in spending. At Dh41 billion, up 9 per cent from last year, Dubai’s budget will be the biggest since 2009 while avoiding a deficit. Oil will account for only 4 per cent of Dubai Government revenues, the budget revealed, down 5 per cent from last year.