Fitch Ratings gives Philippines its first-ever investment grade

MANILA, Philippines (AP) - Credit rating agency Fitch Ratings has given the Philippines its first-ever investment grade, giving the Southeast Asian nation greater access to low-cost funds.

The agency said Wednesday that it has upgraded the Philippines' long-term, foreign currency-denominated debt to BBB minus from BB plus and long-term local currency-denominated debt to BBB from BBB minus.

The outlooks on both ratings are stable.

Fitch cited the Philippines' strong sovereign external balance and persistent current account surplus.

The economy has expanded 6.6 percent in 2012 and Fitch expects 5.5 percent growth this year.

President Benigno Aquino III said that the upgrade would lower interest on debts and increase investments.

He said it was an affirmation of his good governance agenda and economic reform.