There were more ratings upgrades than downgrades in Europe, Middle East and Africa last quarter for the first time since 2008, according to ratings agency Moody's.

However it was tougher to position ratings between a forward-looking approach that risks getting it wrong and a conservative approach which could lag companies' actual credit quality, the agency said.

It also predicted that a positive rating trend will likely continue in 2014.

However it cited recent actions for ISS and Vodafone as examples of the new challenges it faces, particularly given that the economy is in the early stages of growth.

Companies embarking on capital-intensive projects or opportunistic acquisitions may be buoyed by these signs of an improving economy, but those moves could put pressure on their risk metrics until the recovery has fully taken hold, it said.

Moody's also said that there has been a broad improvement in positive credit trends for non-financial corporations in EMEA.

After the economic false dawn of 2011 and subsequent bank deleveraging, issuers are better placed to withstand a credit shock, it said.

Low interest rates and easy primary markets have allowed them to make their capital structures more resilient by taking on additional liquidity and extending maturity of their debt.