Rating agency gives Greece something to celebrate

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Rating agency Standard & Poor's has raised Greece's sovereign credit rating to B-minus with a stable outlook from selective default, citing Europe's efforts to keep the country part of the euro.

"The upgrade reflects our view of the strong determination of European Economic and Monetary Union member states to preserve Greek membership in the eurozone," S&P said in a statement on Tuesday (18 December).

"The outlook on the long-term rating is stable, balancing our view of the government's commitment to a fiscal and structural adjustment against the economic and political challenges of doing so," the agency added.

Standard and Poor's had cut the rating to selective default earlier this month after the Greek government invited private sector bondholders to participate in a debt buyback meant to help lower the country's debt burden.

The rating agency said at the time that the consummation of the debt buyback would likely see the selective default cured.

Greece's major lenders - Germany and the International Monetary Fund - both endorsed the result of the bond buyback.

The debt buyback helped convince eurozone partners and the IMF to unlock €49.1 billion in aid by the end of March.

Moody's Investors Service rates the country C; Fitch rates Greece CCC. The ratings from all three agencies are speculative.

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