ECONOMY

Fitch affirms Greek credit rating, confirms growth prospects

Fitch Ratings on Monday affirmed Greece’s long-term foreign and local currency issuer default ratings (IDR) at B-.

The issue ratings on Greece’s senior unsecured foreign and local currency bonds have also been affirmed at B-.

The outlooks on the long-term IDRs are stable.

The short-term foreign currency IDR has been affirmed at B and the country ceiling upgraded to B+ from B.

Fitch said it has taken into account that Greece is on course to eliminate longstanding macroeconomic imbalances and there has been no repetition of the protracted delays in EU-IMF disbursements that marred previous years.

Fitch expects negotiations with the troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund on the fifth review of the economic adjustment program to reach a satisfactory conclusion by year-end.

Near term, Greece is fully funded until February 2014, it added.

Fitch acknowledged that there are program funding shortfalls of 11 billion euros in 2014-15, but said it believed various options should be available to address these.

The Greek economy’s ability to adjust and recover is crucial to the restoration of sovereign creditworthiness, it noted.

“To date, adjustment has taken place chiefly through recession and unemployment. Recovery still hangs in the balance. However, the rate of contraction of real GDP has slowed to 3 percent in the third quarter from 5.6 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, while unemployment appears to be leveling out, albeit at a record high of 27 percent.”

Fitch has revised its real GDP forecast for 2013 to negative 4 percent from negative 4.3 percent, leaving 2014 unchanged at 0.5 percent.

Primary fiscal surpluses are in sight, holding out the prospect of a stabilization in the public debt/GDP ratio.

[Fitch]