S&P lowers Israel's rating outlook to negative on war risks

AFP , Wednesday 25 Oct 2023

S&P Global Ratings said Tuesday it was lowering Israel's credit outlook from stable to negative, citing risks that conflict in Gaza could broaden, with a more pronounced impact on the economy.

S P Global
File Photo: The S P Global logo is seen outside a building in Washington. AFP


In a notice, the credit rating agency said: "The negative outlook reflects the risk that the Israel-Hamas war could spread more widely or affect Israel's credit metrics more negatively than we expect."

"We currently assume the conflict will remain centred in Gaza and last no more than three to six months," it added.

On Tuesday, S&P said it revised the outlook for its "AA-" long-term foreign and local currency ratings on Israel to negative.

S&P's decision comes less than a week after agency Moody's Investors Service put the Israeli government's A1 credit ratings on review for downgrade, pointing to the "unexpected and violent conflict between Israel and Hamas."

Fitch Ratings has also announced that it was placing Israel's A+ foreign- and local-currency issuer default ratings on negative watch over risks from the conflict.

S&P said it expects Israel's economy to contract by five per cent in the fourth quarter this year compared with the third, before rebounding in early 2024.

This comes from security-related disruptions and reduced business activity, alongside the drafting of reservists and other factors like a confidence shock.

Added budgetary measures to help households and businesses, on top of a rise in defence spending, are also expected to raise the government deficit, said S&P.

Should the conflict widen "materially," S&P added that it could cut ratings on the country.

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