* Says debt issue improves chances of full market return
* Confidence in sovereign remains 'extremely fragile'
DUBLIN Aug 15 Ireland's first issue of debt in
two years has added to its positive momentum, rating agency
Fitch said on Wednesday, but it remains unclear how much access
to bond markets it will have once its EU/IMF bailout expires at
the end of next year.
Ireland last month issued 4.2 billion euros ($5.2 billion)
of medium-term bonds, the first time a country in a euro zone
bailout programme has done so.
"The recent financing measures have added to Ireland's
positive credit momentum,... improves its chances of
making a full return to the bond markets later this year," Fitch
said in a note.
"However, market confidence remains extremely fragile, and a
further escalation of the euro zone crisis could thwart the
sovereign's return to the capital markets."
Plans to issue between 3 billion and 5 billion euros of
sovereign annuity bonds for the first time, "underlines the
sovereign's improving financing flexibility," the agency said.
Even if Ireland fails to return fully to markets,
bondholders are unlikely to be compelled to take write-downs on
their Irish sovereign debt holdings, the agency said.
Private bondholders were required to take a hit on Greek
debt, but that has since been declared a one-off by those
negotiating EU/IMF bailouts.
Fitch has a BBB+ rating with a negative outlook, which it
said reflects the country's large fiscal deficit and its
susceptibility to contagion from an intensification of the euro
zone sovereign debt crisis that could cut demand for Iris
debt.($1 = 0.8116 euros)