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Sovereign ratings wrap: S&P upgrades Argentina; Fitch affirms Malta

S&P Global Market Intelligence presents a summary of ratings actions on sovereigns and other key territories from Jan. 6 to Jan. 12.

EUROPE

* DBRS Morningstar revised the trend on Lithuania's ratings to positive, based on the continued improvement in its economic resilience, and confirmed the country's long- and short-term foreign- and local-currency ratings at A/R-1(low). Lithuania's sound fiscal position and low public debt ratio support its A ratings.

* Fitch Ratings affirmed Malta's long- and short-term foreign- and local-currency issuer default ratings at A+/F1+, with a positive outlook, citing the country's eurozone membership and stronger institutions than the majority of A-rated peers. Despite corruption allegations and increased political volatility, the outlook reflects an expectation of sustained economic growth in the medium term and a decline in the gross general government debt-to-GDP ratio, the rating agency added.

AMERICAS

* S&P Global Ratings upgraded Argentina's long-term foreign- and local-currency sovereign credit ratings to CCC- from CC, reflecting the government's willingness and commitment to fulfill upcoming credit obligations. The government paid about $900 million on its centennial and discount bond at the end of December 2019 and early January 2020 and repaid its peso-denominated debt. The rating agency expects that the government will create a restructuring plan for its long-term debt with the private sector. The ratings reflect an unfavorable debt situation, a volatile exchange rate with a sharp recent depreciation of the peso, a deep economic downturn and high inflation. S&P Global Ratings affirmed Argentina's short-term ratings at C.

ASIA-PACIFIC

* Moody's assigned Laos a first-time local- and foreign-currency long-term issuer rating of B3, with a positive outlook, based on the strength of its economy, institutions, governance and credit conditions, among other things. The country's GDP growth in the coming years is expected to hover around 6.5% to 7.0%, on the back of ongoing hydropower projects that are likely to contribute to exports and mining production. However, the relatively low household income and the size of Laos' economy tapers its capacity to absorb shocks, Moody's wrote. Additionally, limited separation of power and accountability, alongside corruption, show weak governance in the country. The outlook reflects the agency's view that effective implementation of ongoing investment and fiscal reforms would benefit Laos' economy.

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