Saudi Arabia says no plan to buy European debt

Saudi Arabian central bank governor Muhammad Al Jasser

Saudi Arabia is not concerned about US debt and the world’s No. 1 oil exporter is also not looking into buying euro zone debt, its central bank governor Muhammad Al Jasser said on Wednesday.

Gulf Arab crude exporters, which mostly peg their currencies to the dollar, are major holders of Treasuries and other US assets, with oil – priced in dollars – their main source of government income.

Asked if the OPEC member was worried about the US debt and was considering purchasing euro zone sovereign debt, Jasser said: “No.”

Ratings agency S&P cut last month the US long-term credit rating by one notch in an unprecedented blow due to concerns about the nation’s budget deficits and climbing debt burden.

Fears of debt contagion in the euro zone have been shaking the global markets over the past months. On Wednesday, the euro and European stocks were lifted by an announcement by the head of the European Commission that it would soon present options for issuing a common euro zone bond.

Jasser also told reporters after meeting central bank governors of Qatar, Kuwait and Bahrain in the Qatari capital that the economic situation in the four countries aiming to form a monetary union was “excellent” and that a plan to launch a Gulf single currency was on track.

“There was no postponement, and I have said from the beginning that there will not be a specific date [for the single currency launch]… the economic situation in our countries is excellent and nothing is delaying the currency,” he said.

Besides the four countries, the United Arab Emirates and Oman are members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, a loose political bloc emulating the European economic integration. The UAE and Oman have withdrawn from the Gulf single currency plan in the past.

By Reuters