• Net foreign assets held by central bank fell 2.4% in January
  • Decline continues as oil price slump cuts government revenue

Net foreign assets held by Saudi Arabia’s central bank fell below $600 billion in January for the first time since July 2012 as the government of the world’s largest oil exporter grapples with the plunge in crude prices.

Assets slid by the equivalent of $14.3 billion last month to $594 billion, the lowest level in more than 40 months, according to central bank data released on Sunday. It was the third monthly decline in a row of more than $10 billion.

The plunge in Brent crude prices has prompted the government of the biggest Arab economy to cut spending, raise debt and draw down foreign reserves. Net foreign assets fell by a total of $115 billion in 2015, when the kingdom relied on oil for more than 70 percent of government revenue.

State officials and consultants are drawing up a so-called National Transformation Program to diversify sources of revenue beyond oil. The plan includes selling government stakes in businesses.

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