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S&P upgrades bailed-out Cyprus

Credit agency Standard and Poor’s raised its rating on Cyprus to B from B- on Friday, saying the Mediterranean nation was faring better than expected after last year’s tumultuous international bailout.

Cyprus was meeting terms set out by its foreign lenders and risks to its debt repayments were less, the ratings agency said.

It was Standard and Poor’s second upgrade of Cyprus since it came to the brink of financial collapse in March 2013, with a banking system crippled by its exposure to debt-laden Greece and no access to international capital markets.

It last upgraded Cyprus six months ago.

The upgrade did not alter Cyprus’s timetable on returning to financial markets, anticipated toward the end of 2015, the Cypriot finance minister said.

“Despite the continued recession... prospects are somewhat brighter than we had anticipated in our last review in November 2013,” Standard and Poor’s said.

The country had outperformed borrowers’ expectations with a shallower recession than anticipated and better fiscal performance, likely to be repeated this year, it said.

The agency however said that the possibility of tighter European Union sanctions on Russia, a close business partner and a major source of tourists, could temper the outlook.

Standard and Poor’s cut Russia’s credit rating on Friday.

Standard and Poor’s said it might raise Cyprus’s rating again within the next 12 months if it continued to comply with the measures outlined in a bailout plan agreed with the EU and the International Monetary Fund.

Separately, Fitch ratings revised its outlook on Cyprus to stable from negative on Friday, citing better-than-expected economic performance and progress in reform implementation.

[Reuters]

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