NEW YORK Dec 18 Rating agency Standard & Poor's
on Tuesday 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 (eurozone) member states
to preserve Greek membership in the eurozone," S&P said.
"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.
Greece's finance minister, Yannis Stournaras, said the move
was encouraging but that the country has more work to do.
"This was a very important decision for Greece but we won't
rest," Stournaras said. "It creates a sentiment of optimism but
the way ahead is long and steep."
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 - EU paymaster Germany and the
International Monetary Fund - both endorsed the result of the
The debt buyback helped convince euro zone partners and the
International Monetary Fund to unlock 49.1 billion euros in aid
by the end of March.
The Greek economy is expected to slump for a sixth straight
year in 2013 but might begin to recover in 2014, Stournaras said
earlier this week.
Moody's Investors Service rates the country C; Fitch rates
Greece CCC. The ratings from all three agencies are speculative.