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Sun 4 May 2008 12:50 PM

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Bahrain money supply growth hits 7-year high

Money supply jumped 38.9% in March as investments in time and savings deposits soar.

Growth in Bahraini money supply jumped to 38.9% in March, its fastest pace in at least seven years, as investments in time and savings deposits grew almost 49%, central bank data showed.M3, the broadest measure of money circulating in the smallest Gulf Arab economy, rose to 7.06 billion dinars ($18.73 billion) on March 31, compared with 5.08 billion dinars a year earlier, the central bank said in a monthly report on Sunday.

That was the steepest year-on-year rise in money supply since at least 2001.

Time and savings deposits jumped 48.7% to 4.2 billion dinars, compared with a gain of 44.5% a month earlier, the data showed.

Investments in demand deposits also surged 27.8% to 1.6 billion dinars, the central bank added.

The central bank's net foreign assets also jumped 80.9% in the year to March to 1.88 billion dinars, it said.

Money supply growth, driven by oil prices at record highs above $100 a barrel, is fuelling inflation across the Gulf Arab region. In Bahrain, annual inflation was about 5.24% in March, driven by food prices, official data showed last month.

RELATED: Families feel pinch as food prices continue to rise

Like most of its neighbours in the world's biggest oil-exporting region, Bahrain pegs its currency to the dollar, forcing it to track US interest rate cuts and constraining its fight against inflation.

RELATED: Gulf states toe Fed's line, cut rates

Investors have piled into Gulf currencies since late last year on expectations some oil producers could revalue their currencies to offset inflation as the dollar tumbled to record troughs against the euro this year.

Like some of its neighbours, Bahrain has raised bank reserve requirements to soak up some of the excess liquidity. (Reuters)

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