* Countries more susceptible to Tunisia contagion
* Political, fiscal uncertainty weighing on ratings
* S&P doesn't see "wave of regional political instability"
(Recasts first sentence, adds details from S&P statement,
By Walter Brandimarte
NEW YORK, Jan 27 Middle Eastern and North
African countries that are most vulnerable to political unrest
similar to what occurred in Tunisia are Egypt, Algeria, Jordan
and, to a lesser extent, Morocco, Standard & Poor's said on
The ratings agency said it does not expect "a wave of
regional political instability," but said political and fiscal
uncertainty are weighing on the sovereign ratings of several
Middle Eastern and North African countries.
Protests were still taking place in Tunis nearly two weeks
after President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was ousted amid
protests over poverty, repression and corruption.
Inspired by Tunisia's example, thousands of Egyptians have
taken to the streets to demand an end to President Hosni
Mubarak's 30-year rule.
Egypt, Algeria, Jordan and Morocco all share the same risk
factors that contributed to the events in Tunisia: young
populations, high unemployment, weak economies, rising food
prices, and a lack of political and civil liberties, S&P said.
"Beyond these concrete political risks, we also expect that
Tunisia's Jasmine revolution could have a wider ranging
indirect impact on public finances in the region," S&P's
analyst Kai Stukenbrock said in a report.
"This is because governments are trying to moderate or
prevent popular discontent by measures to try to stabilize or
lower prices of staples and fuels."
S&P last week placed Tunisia's foreign-currency BBB rating
on credit watch negative, meaning it may downgrade it at any
time. It also cut the country's local-currency rating to
BBB-plus from A-minus.
(Editing by Leslie Adler)