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Ratings agencies buoy Italy's optimism, but markets loom on challenging future

By Marzia De Giuli (Xinhua)

10:03, August 22, 2012

ROME, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- Positive judgment from ratings agency Fitch and Moody's buoyed Italy's optimism on Tuesday as the country prepares for a challenging September after the summer break.

Fitch's sovereign-ratings chief, David Riley, said Italy is on the right path of measures to tackle the crisis, while Moody's estimated its gross domestic product could return to pre-crisis levels in 2013.

The agencies' statements came two days after Italy's Prime Minister Mario Monti stated that the end of the economic crisis in his country was "in sight."

Since taking over from Silvio Berlusconi last November, Monti and his government of technocrats have carried out an ambitious reform program that, however, has not led to borrowing costs falling as fast as expected.

It is clear that Italy's crisis originated from three factors: a global economic slowdown that has put a strain on its export market, the eurozone debt crisis, and a tough fiscal austerity coupled with a funding crunch in the banking sector.

Local analysts believe the solid fundamentals of the Mediterranean country could allow it to turn around without external help.

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