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NTMA condemns continued junk status

The state body in charge of the national debt has criticised a credit ratings agency decision not to upgrade Irish government debt from junk status.

The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) welcomed moves from Moody's to change its outlook on Ireland's sovereign rating from negative to stable.

But it said it was "disappointed" the agency still assigned a "sub-investment" grade rating to the country.

"Moody's has today produced a ratings range of Baa2-Baa3 - Ba1 for Ireland (the first two notches are in investment grade and the bottom notch is in sub-investment grade), but has placed Ireland at the bottom of that range," the NTMA said in a statement.

"Market implied ratings as also published today by Moody's, based on Ireland's bond market pricing, point to a rating at the top of that range at a minimum."

Moody's confirmed on Friday that it was changing its outlook on Ireland from negative to stable.

It said the Government's progress in restoring solvency to the public finances and the fact it was on track to exiting its bailout programme at the end of the year were factors in its new outlook.

The announcement from Moody's, which Finance Minister Michael Noonan described as a welcome development, followed confirmation from the national accounts that Ireland had emerged from recession.

Official figures from the Central Statistics Office earlier in the week showed gross domestic product, which includes the multinational sector, increased in the three months to June by 0.4% compared with the first three months of the year.

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