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Tue 28 Jun 2016 07:19 PM

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Saudi central bank foreign assets edge up in May on loan proceeds

Official data shows that central bank assets rose by $665m to $572.9bn; first monthly rise since Jan 2015

Saudi central bank foreign assets edge up in May on loan proceeds
Saudi money, Saudi currency, Saudi economy, Saudi finance, GCC currencies

Net foreign assets at Saudi Arabia's central bank rose by $665 million in May to 2.148 trillion riyals ($573 billion), their first month-on-month rise since January 2015, official data showed on Tuesday.

Riyadh has been liquidating some assets to cover a big state budget deficit caused by low oil prices. They shrank 14.8 percent from a year earlier in May.

But the government, seeking to slow the decline by financing part of its deficit through borrowing from abroad, obtained a $10 billion syndicated loan from international banks last month. This may have caused the month-on-month rise, though the central bank did not provide a reason for the increase.

Foreign assets reached a record high of $737 billion in August 2014 before starting to shrink. They are believed to be mainly denominated in U.S. dollars, in the form of securities such as U.S. Treasury bonds and deposits with banks abroad.

Deposits with banks abroad jumped 9.3 percent from the previous month to $141.2 billion in May, while investments in foreign securities dropped 3.4 percent to $373.1 billion.