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New hope for bailout exit with S&P boost

ALL eyes have turned to ratings agency Moody's after rival Standard and Poor's improved its outlook for Ireland from "negative" to "stable".

The agency is examining whether to upgrade its outlook on our finances, in what would come as one of the biggest boosts since the start of the financial crisis.

Analysts are studying the impact of the historic deal on the promissory notes as they decide whether to improve the country's financial rating.

The news comes after S&P improved its outlook as a result of last week's agreement. The company said the Government's deal with the ECB on the Anglo promissory notes was a crucial factor in its decision.


"We believe the success of the exchange increases the likelihood of a full return by Ireland to private financing and, therefore, of Ireland successfully exiting the EU/IMF bailout programme at the end of 2013," S&P said.

This was only the second time that Ireland's rating was improved since 2007.

The decision will drive down borrowing costs and means that Irish bonds are now more attractive to international investors.

It also augurs well for the country's planned return to the financial markets.

Finance officials are now preparing to hold discussions with Moody's next month as they hope for another positive ratings agency report.

"We will be talking to Moody's at a meeting in March," said National Treasury Management Agency chief executive John Corrigan.

"A one-step upgrade to investment grade would be helpful because it would bring in more investors such as insurance companies and pension funds as possible lenders," he added.

Meanwhile, Finance Minister Michael Noonan is to meet his EU counterparts next month in order to thrash out a plan aimed at ensuring Ireland's exit form the bailout programme.

The head of the Eurogroup, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, praised last week's deal as "positive".

"We welcome the solution found for replacement of the promissory note and winding down of IBRC. These measures will lower the cost of the restructuring which will be positive for Ireland's return to the markets," the Dutchman said.

EU commissioner Oli Rehn said the international markets were showing a "growing confidence" in Ireland.