Egypt's central bank: reserves at "critical" level

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An Egyptian key maker smokes a water pipe as he watches President Mohammed Morsi speaks at the Shura Council, the country's upper house of parliament, in Cairo, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012. Egypt's Islamist president has warned against any unrest that could harm the drive to repair the country's economy in a sharply worded speech pushing the opposition to work with his government. Mohammed Morsi has made the comments in his first speech to the newly convened upper house of parliament, saying it was time for the nation to turn to "production, work, seriousness" after two years of turmoil. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

CAIRO (AP) — The Central Bank of Egypt says the country's foreign currency reserves are at a "critical" minimum level.

The bank says reserves are at the minimum level needed to pay Egypt's international obligations. It did not give a current figure. In statistics from November, the reserves stood at $15 billion, less than half what they were before last year's uprising, even with help of deposits from Qatar.

The bank said in a statement Saturday that it has introduced a new auction system for buying and selling U.S. dollars after a rush by Egyptians to sell the pound in exchange for dollars over concerns of devaluation.

Reserves have tumbled since foreign investment dried up amid the country's turmoil the past two years. Much of the reserves have gone toward propping up the currency.