Russia can withstand new sanctions, rating may be upgraded: Moody's

Russia can withstand new sanctions, rating may be upgraded: Moody's
Tue Jan 30, 2018 14:10:29

Russia's economy has gained enough resilience to withstand new Western sanctions and the country's sovereign rating may be upgraded by the end of the year, Kristin Lindow, a senior vice president at Moody's Investor Service, said in an interview.

REUTERS--- Targeted by Western economic and financial sanctions since 2014, Russia's economy began to recover last year after a steep economic downturn, thanks to higher oil prices and some structural reforms implemented by the government.

"Our analysis is that the economy and public finances are in good shape and can withstand new sanctions," Lindow told Reuters late on Monday, before the United States named major Russian businessmen on a list of oligarchs close to the Kremlin.

Late last week, Moody's raised the country's sovereign outlook to positive from stable just days before widely- anticipated reports on possible new U.S. sanctions against Russia.

The U.S. Treasury Department later released a list of people close to the Kremlin, casting a potential shadow of sanctions risk over a wide circle of wealthy Russians.

Moody's outlook upgrade also came less than two months before Russia's March presidential election, which President Vladimir Putin is widely expected to win.

"We were trying to send a message ... that we think that the economy is resilient to new sanctions. And we also didn't feel it was necessary to wait to assign a positive outlook until after the presidential election," Lindow said.

Global rating agencies are on the watch now for a sovereign rating upgrade as higher oil prices eased concerns about Russia's fiscal buffers, while the economy is on track to grow for the second year in a row.

Lindow said a decision on upgrading Russia's rating could be made no later then in the next 12-18 months.


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