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MORGAN STANLEY:Greece-Two Notches to Go

In a positive surprise versus our forecast, Fitch upgraded Greece’s sovereign rating to BB (‘positive’). Greece is now only two notches away from being ranked investment grade by at least one of the four rating agencies the ECB uses to assess eligibility for asset purchases.

Sovereign rating keeps improving: In our view, today’s upgrade adds further evidence that Greece’s rating is on a positive trend. Public debt sustainability is gradually improving and the economic recovery appears to be gaining momentum too. We remain positive about the cycle, and think that Greece will remain committed to reforms and prudent fiscal policies. All this, we think, will continue to benefit the sovereign rating. For markets, the chance of Greece re- obtaining investment grade status, which may continue to rise over time, will likely be a focus this year.

When’s the next rating review? Investors will have to wait until 2Q to hear again from the rating agencies. S&P and DBRS Morningstar are one notch below Fitch, but also have the rating outlook set at ‘positive’, therefore signalling a good chance of near-term positive rating action, and both have their next review scheduled for April 24. Moody’s sovereign rating for Greece is below the others, and its next review will take place on May 8. Fitch, which now holds the highest rating of the four main agencies, is only set review the rating again in late July.

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