Strong oil prices allied with high output boosted Saudi Arabia’s foreign assets by nearly SR39 billion (Dh38.5 billion) in April after recording one of their biggest increases in 2011, according to official data.
The foreign assets of the Saudi Arabia Monetary Agency (SAMA), the Gulf Kingdom’s central bank, soared to an all time high of around SR2,193.4 billion (Dh2,171) billion at the end of April compared with SR2,154 billion (Dh2,133 billion) at the end of March, SAMA said in its latest monthly bulletin.
Most of the increase was in investments in foreign securities as they surged by around SR36 billion to SR1,482.9 billion from SR1,446 billion.
Deposits with banks abroad edged up by nearly SRone billion to SR496 billion from SR495.2 billion in the same period.
After sharp falls in late 1990s, SAMA’s assets began their rapid rise in the following years because of high oil prices and a surge in the country’s crude output. The year 2009 was an exception as they dipped by nearly SR130 billion following a decline in oil prices and production.
In 2011, the assets leaped by about SR352 billion as a result of high oil prices and a sharp rise in the Kingdom’s crude output,.
It was the biggest annual increase in the assets since 2008, when they rocketed by a whopping SR513 billion mainly because of a 50 per cent rise in crude prices that allowed the country to record its highest fiscal surplus of SR580 billion.
The increase last year was also more than double the assets growth of around SR135 billion through 2010, when they ended the year at SR1,705 billion compared with SR1,570 billion at the end of 2009.
A surge in oil prices to a record high average of $110 a barrel allied with a one million bpd increase in Saudi Arabia’s crude production to widen its fiscal surplus to nearly SR307 billion in 2011 from SR87 billion in 2010.
The current account of the largest Arab economy and the world’s oil powerhouse also shot up to $156 billion from $69 billion.
Buoyed by strong oil prices, Saudi Arabia announced a record high budget of SR690 billion for 2012 and analysts expect actual spending to end the year much higher as was the case in previous years.