Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner has told President Obama that he will stay at his current job through the 2012 election, the agency announced on Sunday afternoon, the Associated Press is reporting.

The announcement comes as Asian markets are set to open for the first time since Standard & Poor's downgraded the United States' credit rating on Friday, a decision heavily criticised by the White House. Geithner remaining at his post will help maintain the stability of President Obama's economic team during a stressful time.

“Secretary Geithner has let the president know that he plans to stay on in his position at Treasury,” Jenni LeCompte, assistant secretary for public affairs, said in a statement. “He looks forward to the important work ahead on the challenges facing our great country.”

The White House expects Geithner to stay at least through the 2012 election, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the timetable. Had Obama been forced to nominate a replacement in the middle of his reelection campaign, the confirmation process would have been contentious.

The White House also hopes that the news helps calm jittery financial markets, which will open in Asia in a few hours.

Speculation had swirled that Geithner would leave government service after the debt-ceiling crisis was over, after anonymous sources close to him had said several times over the summer that the secretary was ready for a break.

Before assuming his current role, Geithner was president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank, and played a prominent role in the government's response to the 2008 financial crisis.