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Fitch revises Finland rating outlook to 'negative'
[WASHINGTON] Bond rater Fitch cut the outlook for Finland's sovereign debt grade to "negative" on Friday, saying the country's growth prospects have worsened, in part because of a fall in exports to Russia.
Finland still enjoys a top-level AAA rating, Fitch said. But it noted that GDP contracted 0.1 per cent last year after slowing the previous two years.
It cut slightly its outlook for 2015, saying the economy would expand 0.5 per cent.
"Prospects for economic growth are weak and have deteriorated... External trade prospects have been adversely affected by a sharp fall in exports to Russia, Finland's third-largest trading partner," Fitch said.
It also pointed to a sharp increase in net external debt of the country, to 34.7 percent of GDP, double the median for countries enjoying the AAA rating.
"The Finnish economy is adjusting to sector-specific shocks in the electronics and paper sectors, and is also experiencing the effects of population ageing," it noted.
"The combination of the structural decline in key industrial sectors and a diminishing workforce has led to a sharp decline in productivity growth and in estimates of potential economic growth."