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Oil price hike boosts Saudi assets

SPECIAL TO WORLD TRIBUNE.COM
Monday, February 16, 2004

ABU DHABI Saudi Arabia has increased its assets by nearly $20 billion on the strength of higher oil prices.

The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency reported assets increased from $52.7 billion at the end of 2002 to $72.7 billion at the end of last year. This was the highest figure in more than a decade.

The central bank reported an increase in bank deposits over the last year -- from $10.7 billion to $12.1 billion. The agency also reported a sharp increase in foreign securities as a result of a government decision to switch from bank deposits to bonds.

By the end of September 2003, Saudi Arabia's official reserves were reported at $23.1 billion. This was the highest level since 1981 and more than triple the level at the end of 1998.

The Saudi National Commercial Bank said the gross development product of the kingdom grew by nearly 12 percent in 2003. The GDP is expected to grow at a lower rate in 2004 as a result of lower oil prices.

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