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Fitch keeps Lebanon credit rating at 'B-' with stable outlook

BEIRUT, Sept 1 (Reuters) - Fitch Ratings kept Lebanon's credit status at 'B-' with a stable outlook on Friday, a week after Moody's downgraded the country over concerns about its very high debt-to-GDP ratio.

Fitch said its rating reflected Lebanon's very weak public finances and high political risk, as well as its large foreign reserves and strong banking system.

Lebanon is trying to reform its fragile economy after years of paralysis in decision-making, but is under pressure to do more to stop its rising debt spinning out of control.

The election of President Michel Aoun last year and appointment of a new government led to steps to improve stability and boost the economy, partly through laws to allow oil and gas development.

Last month the government decided to raise public sector pay and to increase taxes to cover the cost, prompting Moody's to downgrade its credit rating for Lebanon to B3.

Fitch said Lebanon's public finances were weaker than those of its peers and its outlook for fiscal consolidation was unclear.

Its forecast is that Lebanon's budget deficit will narrow to 9.5 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017 and then to 8.9 percent in 2018-19. That would imply the government's debt-to-GDP ratio rising to 155 percent in 2019, it said. (Reporting By Angus McDowall; Editing by Susan Fenton)