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THE National Treasury Management Agency will sell the state's first 10-year bond since the bailout exit as early as today, paving the way for Ireland to return unsupported to the markets.

The NTMA said the transaction will be launched and priced "in the near future", subject to market conditions.

There is significant international interest in Ireland's first post-bailout bond auction.

Yesterday it was revealed that the head of Saudi Arabia's central bank will visit Dublin for talks with the NTMA about potential investment in Irish government bonds, following discussions in the Saudi capital Riyadh with Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

The sale comes about a week before international rating agency Moody's is due to update its view on the country's credit worthiness.

Moody's downgraded Ireland's credit rating to non-investment grade or "junk" status in July 2011 after the property market collapsed.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan (above) said on December 6 that he hoped Moody's will raise the nation's credit ranking this year.

The Saudi Arabian government and others are unlikely to invest in Irish debt until credit rating agencies lift their rating for Ireland to a less risky level.