Fitch keeps Ireland on A-

Fitch released its scheduled review on Ireland after the market close on Friday.

The agency had upgraded Ireland by one notch back in August, but despite the favourable developments since then (as reflected in a number of upward revisions to Fitch’s estimates for the economy) it affirmed Ireland’s long-term rating at A- with a stable outlook. Fitch believes that the economy grew by 4.7% last year in GDP terms (compared to its previous estimate of +2.2%), although much of this revision is down to the contract manufacturing effect. It sees GDP expanding by 2.9% and 2.5% in 2015 and 2016 respectively (was previously +2.0% for 2015), but it reiterated its previous view that the medium-term growth potential of the economy is “around 2%”.

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Goods exports and imports increased in 2014

Merchandise trade data for 2014, released on Friday, show growth in both exports and imports. Total exports rose 2.4% y/y to €89.1bn while imports jumped 7.1% y/y to €53.6bn, producing a trade surplus that was 4.0% lower at €35.5bn. All in all, the release confirms that the Irish export sector performed very resiliently during 2014 despite the weaker signs from a number of the country’s main trading partners. While the global backdrop has become somewhat more unsettled in recent times, FX tailwinds and the more defensive nature of the bulk of the industries located in Ireland should serve to insulate Ireland from these pressures.

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