February 8, 2019 / 10:21 PM / 10 days ago

UPDATE 1-Moody's raises Russia rating to investment grade

(Adds background, details)

Feb 8 (Reuters) - Global ratings agency Moody’s Investor Service raised Russia’s rating to investment grade on Friday, saying the policies enacted in recent years will strengthen the country’s already robust public finances.

Moody’s also said there is a reasonably high likelihood that the United States could impose further sanctions on Russia in the coming months, but added that Russia’s ability to withstand the impact has improved since the downgrade in 2015.

The government’s net borrowing needs are very small and with fiscal consolidation and shifts in sources of investors in government debt, it is possible for Russia to execute borrowing plans domestically if needed, Moody’s said in a statement.

The agency raised its rating to Baa3 from Ba1, but changed its outlook to stable from positive, citing ongoing pressures from external factors including a further fall in oil prices.

“Very low public debt, substantial public assets and steadily shrinking national external debt vis-a-vis the country’s foreign currency assets provide a significant degree of resilience amidst ongoing structural challenges the country faces,” Moody’s said.

Last month S&P Global Ratings had affirmed Russia’s BBB-/A-3 credit rating with a stable outlook, showing confidence in the country’s solid external and public balance sheets.

However, S&P had joined Fitch in saying that it could consider negative rating if the United States decides to impose more sanctions on the country. (Reporting by Shariq Khan in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D’Silva)

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