Credit declines for Saudi banks

Billion Saudi riyals is the bank credit in the kingdom at the end of December. (REUTERS)

Credit offered by Saudi Arabia's banks fell to its lowest level in at least 13 months in December and closed 2009 with a first annual drop since at least 2001, central bank data showed.

The global financial crisis froze credit in the Gulf last year and debt restructuring of Saudi family firms are expected to weigh on credit growth this year.

Bank credit in the kingdom stood at SR736.9 billion (Dh721.75bn) at the end of December, down from SR752.8bn in the previous month and SR744.8bn at the end of 2008, data from the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency's (Sama) website showed. Banks' claims on the private sector, a measure of banks' confidence in private sector growth prospects, stood at SR734.2bn by the end of December, showing its first month-on-month drop in four months, it showed.

The central bank's net foreign assets rose to SR1.52 trillion in December, their highest level since March, 2009.

 

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