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Fitch revises Ecuador's outlook to negative on growing fiscal pressures

Fitch Ratings on Jan. 10 changed Ecuador's outlook to negative from stable as it warned against the country's relatively large financing needs and uncertain access to funding sources.

The rating agency affirmed the country's long-term foreign and local currency issuer default ratings at B.

"A faster fiscal consolidation to reduce the funding gap is difficult and uncertain, especially as it could bring additional challenges for Ecuador's economic and political outlook," Fitch said. Other weaknesses include the country's low level of international reserves and weak external liquidity, the rating agency noted.

Ecuador's financing needs in the year could reach $9 billion, with the government looking at possible sources that rely heavily on oil-related funding, China and international markets, Fitch said. The rating agency expects Ecuador's debt-to-GDP ratio to rise to a level near 55% of GDP by the end of 2019, up from 35% in 2015.

The country could also face significant implementation risks to its fiscal adjustment plans as President Lenin Moreno sees a sharp decline in his popularity, Fitch said.

Fitch expects Ecuador's economy to grow by just 0.6% in 2019 from 1.0% in 2018 amid the country's reduced public spending.

Moody's in December 2018 also revised its outlook on Ecuador to negative from stable, noting that a planned gradual fiscal adjustment is likely to be insufficient to ease liquidity access and reassure investors.