The Tell: How higher oil prices buy Saudi rulers breathing room

Compare and contrast Saudi Arabia’s 2017 budget with 2016, and it’s clear the kingdom has plenty of incentive to ensure the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other major producers stick to output curbs agreed to last year.

Oil prices in the $50s are set to give the country’s rulers room to ramp up spending on health care, social programs and infrastructure in a bid to shore up public morale that had taken a sustained hit as slumping crude prices led to a painful round of austerity, said Helima Croft, global head of commodity strategy at RBC Capital Markets, in a Wednesday note.

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