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The Canadian dollar fell on Wednesday after the Financial Times reported that Saudi Arabian officials instructed the kingdom's asset managers to dump their holdings of the country's assets.

Saudi Arabia has declared a freeze on new trade with Canada and recalled thousands of students attending Canadian universities following the tweet last week from Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland. Riyadh said Ottawa was interfering in its internal affairs.

The central bank did not immediately respond to a Reuters query for comment. The company also has copper mines in Zambia and Chile.

The currency dropped as much as 0.5 per cent to $1.3120 per USA dollar after the Financial Times reported that the Saudi Arabia central bank and state pension funds have instructed their overseas asset managers to dispose of Canadian assets starting Tuesday.

The Canadian dollar was down by 0.2% against the United States dollar to 1.3096 at 8:59 a.m. ET.

Saudi Arabia announced it was suspending future trade with Canada and severing diplomatic ties.

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Saudi Arabia's Foreign Ministry called the statement "a major, unacceptable affront to the kingdom's laws and judicial process". Canada imported 71,300 barrels of crude a day from Saudi Arabia as of 2014, accounting for about 11 percent of the country's imports, according to Natural Resources Canada.

The kingdom has taken several measures to punish Ottawa.

Saudi Arabia has also stopped all medical treatment programs in Canada and is working on transferring all Saudi patients there to other countries, state media said Wednesday.

It was unclear how many Saudi patients would be affected by the decision and how many were covered by the kingdom's health care system. Saudi Arabia's airline suspended flights to and from Canada, potentially complicating travel plans for Canada's Muslim population as the annual Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca approaches later in August.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia's main state wheat-buying agency, Saudi Grains Organization (SAGO), issued a notice to exporters that it will no longer buy Canadian wheat and barley.

The dispute looks set to damage what is a modest bilateral trade relationship worth almost $4 billion a year.


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