Fitch Sees Pressure on Ratings in Middle East, Africa, LatAm in 2016

Lower commodity prices and a stronger U.S. dollar are a big challenge for emerging markets and will probably exert downward pressure on credit ratings in the Middle East, Africa and Latin America in 2016, Fitch Ratings' top sovereign analyst said.

Reuters reports that oil futures pared losses on Wednesday, but analysts said a surprise ballooning in U.S. inventories and little chance of the world's major producers agreeing to cut output would likely temper any rallies after prices hit their lowest level since 2003 last week.

"If you look at the negative outlooks that are in place today there is a disproportionate number of them that are accounted for by emerging markets that are net exporters of commodities," James McCormack told reporters on Wednesday.

"Regionally that leads to the Middle East and Africa and secondarily to Latin America. So that is where we expect to see continued downward pressure on ratings in 2016," said McCormack, who is Fitch's head of sovereigns.

The ratings of Azerbaijan and Turkey are scheduled for review by Fitch on Feb. 26. The ratings of Namibia and Tunisia are scheduled for review on Mar. 4.

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