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Announcement:

Moody's sovereign outlook for Latin America sees upward rating movement

 The document has been translated in other languages

Global Credit Research - 20 Jan 2011

New York, January 20, 2011 -- Building on significant gains in 2010, the sovereign ratings for Latin American and Caribbean countries are poised for additional gains in 2011, says an outlook report for the region issued by Moody's Investors Service.

"The stable-to-positive credit picture for Latin America has been greatly aided by the region's economic growth, which has remained resilient even as more developed parts of the world experienced economic contraction or anemic growth," said Moody's Vice President Patrick Esteruelas, a co-author of the report. "While external downside risks remain, we also see credit improvements due to less-expansionary government policies, and a stabilization of government debt metrics."

The region's near-term upward momentum in 2011 is supported by significant gains over the course of 2010. A total of 10 countries were upgraded last year, and another three, Brazil, Colombia and Bolivia, were assigned positive outlooks.

The report offers a country-by-country breakdown that features key developments from last year and an overview of what Moody's sees as major issues for 2011. "While the positive rating activity in 2010 suggests the potential for further rating improvements in the new year, further upgrades are likely to be more selective as many of the credit improvements of recent years have already been incorporated into the ratings," said Esteruelas.

Latin America is expected to continue growing at a healthy pace in 2011 after recording a very strong performance in 2010, underpinned by a robust domestic demand, supportive global growth conditions, rising commodity prices and ongoing abundant capital flows.

"South American countries are expected to grow at slower rates than in 2010 while Central American and Caribbean countries will post higher growth rates that shrink the gap with their southern neighbors," said Esteruelas.

On the policy front, Esteruelas credited some countries throughout the region, particularly Chile and Peru, for tightening macroeconomic policies in the second half of 2010 after pursuing expansionary fiscal and monetary policies throughout 2009 and the first half of 2010.

"Policy moderation is expected to continue during 2011, which will also help prevent overheating and rein-in inflationary pressures," said Esteruelas, who added that the regional debt burden is likely to stabilize after posting significant improvements over the last few years.

"A declining share of foreign currency-denominated debt, ongoing accumulation of foreign exchange reserves and efforts to lengthen debt maturities will leave Latin America better equipped to withstand market shocks," said the analyst.

The Moody's report cautions that the main risks to Latin America's sovereign credit outlook come from outside of the region in the shape of potential lower growth from China that would lessen demand for Latin American products, a slow recovery in the US, and heightened market risk aversion as a result of growing woes in the Eurozone.

"While Brazil could be impacted by these factors, especially a fall-off in demand from China, it will likely continue to display above-trend economic growth as the positive momentum of recent years extends into 2011," said Esteruelas. "Underpinned by domestic demand and surging capital inflows, Brazil's key policy challenge will be to manage a transition towards lower, more sustained, growth that will demand adopting a counter-cyclical monetary and fiscal policy stance."

An assessment of Brazil's Baa3 rating, currently with a positive outlook, will likely take place during the second quarter of 2011.

"No downward changes are anticipated for Mexico's Baa1 ratings as policy management will likely remain responsible," said Esteruelas. "After the economic crisis of 2009 confirmed Mexico's sovereign credit resilience, economic conditions took a turn for the better last year as indicators reported generally improving trends."

Even though structural factors will continue to constrain Mexico's medium-term growth prospects, Esteruelas explained that security problems are not expected to have immediate rating implications as Moody's anticipates their impact is mostly related to medium-term growth and investment prospects.

* * * * *

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS ONLY: For more information, please call one of our global press information hotlines: New York +1-212-553-0376, London +44-20-7772-5456, Tokyo +813-5408-4110, Hong Kong +852-3758-1350, Sydney +61-2-9270-8141, Mexico City 001-888-779-5833, São Paulo 0800-891-2518, or Buenos Aires 0800-666-3506. You can also email us at <A href="mailto:mediarelations@moodys.com">mediarelations@moodys.com</A> or visit our web site at <A href="http://www.moodys.com">www.moodys.com</A>.

New York
Patricio Esteruelas
Vice President - Senior Analyst
Sovereign Risk Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

New York
Mauro Leos
VP - Senior Credit Officer
Sovereign Risk Group
Moody's Investors Service
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Moody's Investors Service
250 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10007
U.S.A.
JOURNALISTS: 212-553-0376
SUBSCRIBERS: 212-553-1653

Moody's sovereign outlook for Latin America sees upward rating movement
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