International rating agency Moody's changed the outlook for Saudi banks from stable to negative in the expectation that the number of overdue loans will increase over the next year to 18 months due to the low oil prices and cuts in government spending.
Overdue loans will increase to approximately 2.5% of total loans during this period. Economic growth in Saudi Arabia slowed down as predicted, to 1.5% in 2016 and 2% in 2017, well below the projected 2015 growth of 3.4% due to the fall in oil prices. The growth of bank lending to slow down in the range of 3% to 5% in 2016.
Bank reserves in Saudi banks are likely to remain stable. Profitability is also likely to remain at a high level thanks to the zero corporate tax.