Saudi Arabia Sells FX Reserves to Offset Low Oil Price

Look out world—China’s not the only central bank in town selling its currency reserves to cope with a tumultuous global economy.

With crude prices having shed more than half their value over the past year, oil producing economies are feeling the sting of cheaper oil. More importantly, Saudi Arabia—OPEC’s largest member and the world’s top oil producer—bears watching as oil stays below $50 and a global glut depresses oil prices, analysts say.

Even before China surprised markets by announcing a record drawdown of its foreign currency denominated assets, Saudi Arabia had already begun selling its reserves to plug a hole in its budget and support its flagging currency, the riyal. In February and March, the world’s largest oil exporter saw net foreign assets drop by more than $30 billion, the biggest two- month drop on record.

These asset sales are important because Saudi holds one of the world’s largest reserve caches—and such sales put downward pressure on the U.S. dollar and upward pressure on Treasury bond rates.

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