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Credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's affirmed its stable outlook for Israel's economy, grading the country "A-" with no change in sight.
"Our analysts believe the system and capital market reform in Israel is moving into the right direction. S&P's 'A-' rating for Israel with a stable outlook remains intact and is not likely to change," said Barbara Ridpath, Executive Managing Director at S&P, Monday during her first visit to Israel.
Moody's Investors Service rates Israel "A2" and Fitch Ratings grades the country also at "A-."
"We are here to familiarize ourselves with the Israeli market and to introduce S&P's credit rating strategies and methodology. This is a good time to be involved in the capital markets in Israel. As capital flows in and out of Israel, transparency and disclosure of information to investors is crucial," said Ridpath.
Ridpath, among other senior S&P representatives who arrived to Israel this week, will speak Tuesday at the "Credit Rating Beyond Borders" joint conference with Maalot ratings agency on the topic of credit trends in global markets.
The delegation of S&P representatives will meet this week with the Governor of the Bank of Israel Stanley Fisher, acting finance minister Ehud Olmert, Treasury Director-General Yossi Bachar, representatives of the Israel Securities Authority and the major players and investors in Israel's economy.
"There is no doubt that this visit is a sign of increased interest of the global financial community in the development of the Israeli market following the Bachar market reforms and an improved geopolitical situation," said Amos Sapir, chairman of Maalot.
Deutsche Bank on Friday issued upgrade for Israel's market as a whole for being relatively defensive and attractively priced driven by continued GDP growth and strong economic data after a long downturn.
The bank turned overweight on Israel in its weekly Global Emerging Markets (GEM) report, saying Tel Aviv seems more resilient to global risk aversion and had low-priced domestic stocks. It recommended investors overweight Israel in their international portfolio.
The bank changed its GEM top stock picks list for Israel by adding Check Point Software Technologies and Teva Pharmaceuticals as well as Bank Hapoalim and Israel Chemicals. Nice Systems and Lipman Engineering were dropped from the list because of risk factors. Bank Hapoalim was put on GEM's top pick's list as the best positioned among the banks to profit from the positive economic data, whereas Bank Leumi was removed from the list because of uncertainty over its privatization.
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