S&P lifts Ireland's outlook to stable

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February 12, 2013 5:28 AM EST

Rating agency Standard & Poor's on Monday raised Ireland's sovereign outlook to stable from negative, citing expectations for lower debt servicing costs and refinancing risk.

The agency currently rates Ireland BBB-plus.

The move "reflects our expectation that the exchange of promissory notes for longer-term government bonds significantly reduces the Irish government's debt-servicing costs and refinancing risk, and supports medium-term fiscal consolidation," S&P said in a statement.

"By improving the government's debt-maturity profile, the transaction also increases the prospects of Ireland leaving the EU/IMF bailout program as planned at the end of 2013."

Moody's Investors Service rates the country Ba1 with a negative outlook, below investment grade. Fitch rates Ireland BBB-plus with a stable outlook.

(Reporting by Luciana Lopez; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and James Dalgleish)

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