(Adds comments from Russia’s finance ministry, background)
Aug 9 (Reuters) - Global rating agency Fitch upgraded Russia’s investment grade rating on Friday to ‘BBB’ from ‘BBB-‘, citing strengthened policy mix, robust fiscal and external balance sheets, which it said will help the country cope with heightened sanctions risk.
Russia’s finance ministry welcomed the decision.
“We believe that the Fitch decision will become a legitimate reason for raising Russia’s credit sovereign rating by the rest of the Big Three rating agencies,” the ministry said in a statement.
Since 2017 Fitch had maintained ratings on Russia’s debt at ‘BBB-‘, with a positive outlook, and analysts were doubtful it would raise the rating now in the wake of a sluggish Russian economy and the ongoing global trade war.
The upgrade comes at a time when top borrowers in the country have joined calls to let banks use domestic ratings, citing difficulties in forecasting the accessibility of external markets.
Russia’s debt is rated at investment grade by all three big international rating agencies, including S&P Global Ratings and Moody’s, which helped Moscow borrow money on the global markets by issuing Eurobonds this year.
Earlier this week, S&P Global Ratings said the latest U.S. sanctions on Russian U.S. dollar-denominated sovereign debt will have no immediate impact on Russia’s investment grade credit rating.
Reporting by Devbrat Saha in Bengaluru and Andrey Ostroukh in Moscow; Editing by Arun Koyyur