September 28, 2017 / 4:05 PM / in 10 months

Saudi August foreign reserves at lowest since early 2011

    DUBAI, Sept 28 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's foreign reserves
fell in August to their lowest level since April 2011, central
bank data showed on Thursday, drawn down to cover a budget
deficit caused by low oil prices.
    The central bank's net foreign assets shrank by $6.9 billion
from their level in July to $480.0 billion. The assets dropped
13.4 percent from a year earlier; they peaked at $737 billion in
August 2014.
    The vast majority of the foreign assets are believed to be
denominated in U.S. dollars. Foreign securities holdings dropped
only slightly in August, edging down by $264 million from the
previous month to $332.6 billion, while foreign bank deposits
shrank $6.2 billion to $89.2 billion.
    Foreign assets dropped in August despite the government's
issue of 13 billion riyals ($3.5 billion) of local currency
Islamic bonds during the month to cover part of its deficit - a
sign that pressure on its finances remains heavy.
    The central bank data also showed that outstanding bank
loans to the private sector in Saudi Arabia fell 1.0 percent
from a year earlier in August, a sign of a weak economy. It was
the sixth straight month of falling bank lending; loans dropped
1.3 percent in July.     

 (Reporting by Andrew Torchia Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)
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