NEW YORK — Fitch Ratings said Tuesday it will keep its rating on U.S. debt at the highest grade, AAA, and issued a “stable” outlook, meaning it expects the rating to stay there.
That’s better than the other two main ratings agencies: Moody’s lists the U.S. debt at AAA but says its outlook is negative. And Standard & Poor’s set off a maelstrom in the stock market last week after it took its rating on the U.S. down to the second-highest grade, AA-plus, for the first time.
The S&P cited bickering in Congress over the debt ceiling earlier this summer, as well as the country’s rising proportion of debt, for its downgrade. But Fitch said that it decided to keep its rating because the “key pillars” of U.S. creditworthiness remain intact, including its “flexible, diversified and wealthy economy.”
It also said that the country’s flexibility in monetary policy gives it the ability to absorb economic shocks.
The dollar’s central role in the world economy allows the U.S. to hold a higher proportion of debt to gross domestic product.
Fitch said it would revisit the rating after the congressional committee that is supposed to figure out how to cut government spending presents its findings, due by the end of November.
The rating, which measures the possibility that the U.S. will default on its debt, has been a hot-button issue in the past two weeks. Standard & Poor’s downgrade on Aug. 5 ignited a volatile week on Wall Street, with the Dow rising or falling by at least 400 points for four days.
The government and some analysts have criticized the S&P’s decision, calling it unjustified and based on faulty math.