Moody's says Irish bond issue 'credit positive'

DUBLIN Thu Jan 10, 2013 12:46pm EST

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DUBLIN Jan 10 (Reuters) - Ireland's issuing of 2.5 billion ($3.3 billion) of debt this week was credit positive, according to Moody's, the only major ratings agency to rate Irish sovereign debt as junk.

But it said market access was not enough for the country's return to investment grade.

Ireland kicked off its funding for the year on Tuesday when it sold 2.5 billion euros of 2017 paper, raising a quarter of the 10 billion euros it aims to borrow in 2013 before a planned exit from its EU/IMF bailout.

"Ireland's capital market issuance is credit positive and an important step for it to regain full market access, Moody's said in a note released on Thursday.

But the agency, which rates Ireland at Ba1 after stripping it of its investment grade status in 2011, said signs of growth were needed to show that the country's debt is sustainable.

"An upgrade for Ireland's rating depends on crucial fiscal progress, stabilisation of the very high debt burden and a sustained return to positive growth," it said.

"Ireland has made significant progress in these areas since the depth of its fiscal crisis but uncertainties linger."

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