Saudi Arabia opened its $590 billion stock market to foreign investors Monday – a move aimed at helping the country’s companies endure a potentially extended period of lower oil prices.
Interestingly, only about one-fifth of the companies traded on the Tadawul Saudi Stock Exchange are directly in the oil business. But most others are, of course, heavily affected by oil, which has long been the major driver of Saudi Arabia’s economy.
By opening the exchange to all foreign investors, the Saudis hope to help its domestic companies raise significant capital, thereby helping to strengthen – and diversify – the country’s economy. The Kingdom may also be hoping some new foreign investment can help plug a hole in its budget, which has expanded to pay Saudi companies that rely on government contracts for construction, infrastructure, agriculture, education, and other areas. According to the Saudi Gazette on Sunday, the country’s breakeven crude oil price has risen from just under $75 in 2009 to about $90 today, translating into an estimated $38.6 billion budget deficit for fiscal year 2015. [Read more...]