Russia and Saudi Arabia dump $50bn in US assets

United States Department of the Treasury Washington, D.C. © Wikipedia
Investors from Russia and Saudi Arabia have cut their combined holdings of US securities by more than $50 billion between mid 2014 and 2015, reports the Financial Times.

Over the period, Saudi Arabia reduced its holdings by $26 billion, according to an annual US Treasury survey published earlier this week. The Treasury recently unveiled the scale of Saudi buying of US government debt that had dropped by $3 billion to about $116 billion from February to March.

Russian investment in US holdings has more than halved since the 2008 financial crisis to roughly $73 billion by the end of last June.

After crude prices plunged in January to $28 per barrel from $110 in June 2014, the governments of both countries had to search for alternative funding sources to balance their budgets. Although prices have stabilized close to $50 per barrel, Moscow and Riyadh are still facing deficits.

Russia sold $1.75 billion worth of debt last month. Saudi Arabia has announced its own bond sale to raise $15 billion in capital.

Foreign purchases of US securities hit a record $17.1 trillion in June 2015, up four percent from a year earlier. This is largely due to increased holdings by Luxembourg, the UK, Ireland and the Cayman Islands, according to the US Treasury.

The survey conducted among brokers and financial institutions revealed a $159 billion upsurge in holdings of American assets by UK portfolios. The Treasury also reports an increase in US asset purchases by India, Turkey, Brazil and Mexico.