Saudi Arabia’s foreign assets gained a whopping R372.4 billion ($100 billion) in the first 11 months of 2012 due to strong oil prices, a monthly average of around SR34 billion, or more than SRone billion a day.
Oil prices averaged above $110 a barrel during the first 11 months 2012, nearly 50 per cent above the breakeven crude price needed by the world’s dominant oil exporter and largest Arab economy to balance its budget.
From around SR2,057.8 billion at the end of 2011, the foreign assets of the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), central bank, soared to an all time high of nearly SR2,430.2 billion at the end of November.
The assets swelled by nearly SR38 billion over their previous month’s level of SR2,392.3 billion, one of the biggest monthly increases over the past two years, according to SAMA’s monthly bulletin.
The increase in the assets in the first 11 months was in most components of the funds, with deposits with banks abroad surging from
SR414 billion to SR537.6 billion. Investment in foreign securities, which account for nearly two thirds of the total assets, grew from
SR1,427.8 billion to SR1,659.3 billion.
Experts said the sharp rise in the assets last year was a result of a massive fiscal surplus recorded by the Gulf Kingdom through 2012, when it stood at SR387 billion, the second largest fiscal balance after the 2008’s record SR581 surplus.
Last year’s asset gain was the second largest rise since 2008, when they rocketed by a whopping SR513 billion mainly because of a 50 per cent rise in crude prices. The rise in the first 11 months of 2012 was more than the 2011 increase of SR352 billion and more than doubled 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.
Buoyed by strong oil prices, Saudi Arabia announced a record high budget of SR820 billion for 2013 and analysts expect actual spending to end the year much higher as was the case in previous years.
Revenues were put at SR829 billion, leaving a budgeted surplus of SRnine billion.
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