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Fitch Affirms Hungary Rating; Outlook ‘Stable’

MTI-Hungary Today 2019.08.20.

Fitch Ratings on Friday affirmed Hungary’s ‘BBB’ sovereign rating, two notches over the investment grade threshold, with a ‘stable’ outlook.

“Hungary’s ‘BBB’ rating balances strong structural indicators and stronger and more stable macroeconomic performance than peers against high general government debt and risks from policy unpredictability and pro-cyclical policies,” Fitch said.

Fitch noted a deceleration in GDP growth in the second quarter but said economic growth is “still robust, with little evidence of macroeconomic imbalances”. The credit rating agency expects growth to slow to 4.4 percent in 2019, 3.5 percent in 2020 and 2.5 percent in 2021.

 Analyst: Fitch decision as expected

Credit rating agency Fitch’s decision to affirm Hungary’s ‘BBB’ sovereign rating late Friday was in line with expectations, analysts told MTI.

Takarékbank chief analyst Gergely Suppan said Fitch had upgraded Hungary to ‘BBB’ – two notches over the investment grade threshold – at its previous review of the country in February, thus it wasn’t expected to modify the rating at the next available opportunity. He added that the big credit rating agencies are “still behind” when it comes to assessing Hungary’s creditworthiness. He explained that they have failed to take into account the marked improvement in Hungary’s macroeconomic indicators, such as the fall in external debt, the stronger banking sector balance sheet, repeated current-account surpluses, the decline in the budget deficit relative to GDP and positive changes to the structure of public debt.

These indicators are all better than their pre-crisis levels which would justify giving Hungary back its rating before the crisis, Suppan said.

Fitch rated Hungary ‘BBB+’, three notches over the investment grade threshold, before the start of the global financial and economic crisis in 2008.

Equilor Investment senior analyst Zoltán Varga also said Fitch’s affirmation of Hungary’s sovereign rating came as no surprise. Chances for an upgrade at a review by Moody’s Investors Service scheduled for October 25 are good as Moody’s rates Hungary ‘Baa3’, one notch under both Fitch and Standard and Poor’s, he added.