Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 01/01/2013 -- BMI View: We expect asset expansion in the Saudi Arabian commercial banking sector to cool in the months ahead. Deposit growth is slowing on the back of base effects from the implementation of the government's stimulus package in early 2011, while regulatory limits will restrict banks' ability to ramp up lending through borrowing. The Saudi Arabian commercial banking sector remains in good shape. Heavy government spending on public sector wages and social benefits - coupled with robust growth across the economy - are spurring inflows of deposits, while a generally robust macroeconomic backdrop is creating strong demand for new credit. However, we expect growth in the aggregate balance sheet to level off in the months ahead. With deposit growth having been bolstered last year by a series of one-off transfers associated with the government's economic stimulus package, base effects will kick in through the remainder of the year and restrict growth. Moreover, the sector's aggregate loans-to-deposits ratio is running up against the central bank's official ceiling of 0.80, which will restrict banks' ability to ramp up lending through borrowing. We forecast total asset growth of 10.0% in 2012, compared with 9.1% last year.
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