S&P, Moody's positive on Saudi Arabia's non-oil reforms

Clouds move over the Riyadh skyline
Clouds move over the Riyadh skyline November 17, 2013. Picture taken November 17, 2013. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

March 17 (Reuters) - S&P Global on Friday raised its sovereign rating on Saudi Arabia to "A/A-1", citing expected reform and diversification plans to boost development of the kingdom's non-oil sector and shift dependence away from oil.

Rival ratings agency Moody's also said that Saudi Arabia's plans will support it amid volatile oil price cycles and a global transition to sustainable energy. Moody's changed its outlook on the kingdom to "positive" from "stable", and reaffirmed its "A1" rating.

Oil prices have been volatile amid Western sanctions against Russia, supply constraints and most recently, financial fears that have gripped the market following the turmoil in the U.S. banking sector.

Saudi Arabia's reform plans complement its "longstanding position as the world's largest oil exporter, with spare installed capacity providing it the ability to adjust production swiftly when market conditions change, in the current environment of reasonably strong global energy prices," S&P said.

The ratings agency, which previously had a "A-/A-2" rating on Saudi Arabia, forecast a slow rise in the kingdom's oil production through 2026.

Reporting by Nandhini Srinivasan in Bengaluru

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