S&P lifts outlook on UK triple-A credit rating to stable

Friday 13 June 2014 18.41
S&P is the only major ratings agency to retain an AAA rating on UK sovereign debt
S&P is the only major ratings agency to retain an AAA rating on UK sovereign debt

Standard & Poor's today lifted its outlook on Britain's credit rating to stable from negative, citing the broad recovery and progress in consolidating public finances, and confirmed its top 'AAA' assessment.

"Standard & Poor's Ratings Services revised its outlook on the United Kingdom to stable from negative," it said in a statement.

The agency also affirmed its 'AAA/A-1+' long- and short-term sovereign credit ratings for Britain.

"The outlook revision reflects our view of the robust and broadening recovery in the UK economy, and the further progress that the government is making on consolidating public finances," it said in a statement.

S&P forecast that the British economy would expand by almost 3% this year, and by 2.5% in 2015, propelled by business investment and private consumption.

"We see improving credit and capital market conditions as supportive of growth, along with an expected gradual resumption of positive real wage gains. "We anticipate that the UK's economic recovery will continue to broaden, benefitting the public finances," it noted.

"We expect the domestic economy to continue to expand, and rebalance away form a pre-crisis reliance on private consumption, as productivity performance underpins real wage gains and tradables sectors, both in services and manufacturing, continue to recover," the rating agency added.

Earlier today, rival agency Fitch had affirmed its AA+ credit rating for Britain and gave it a "stable" outlook, citing also the country's accelerating economic recovery.

Fitch noted that "favourable macroeconomic trends, including strong GDP growth, falling unemployment and inflation close to the Bank of England's 2% target, have continued in the UK economy" since the agency's last review in December.

"Fitch expects the recovery in major advanced economies, including the eurozone, the UK's largest trading partner, to strengthen gradually in 2014-15, while emerging markets growth will be broadly stable, avoiding the risk of sharp slowdown," it said.

Meanwhile, Standard & Poors lowered South Africa's sovereign credit rating to "BBB-", just a notch from junk bond status, citing feeble growth and prolonged platinum strikes.

The agency held its outlook stable, but noted "relatively high" current account deficits and the economy contracting in the first quarter this year partly because of the marathon stoppages as having influenced its decision.