Mar 22 2013
The UK's credit rating has suffered a fresh blow after a major agency placed it on watch for a downgrade.
Fitch warned the country faced a negative outlook days after Chancellor George Osborne unveiled dire growth and borrowing figures in the Budget.
Another of the big ratings agencies, Moody's, became the first to strip Britain of its gold-plated AAA assessment last month.
Fitch has placed the UK on "rating watch negative", indicating there is a "heightened probability of a downgrade in the near term".
It expects to complete a full review of the sovereign credit rating by the end of April.
The agency said the move "reflects the latest economic and fiscal forecasts published by the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) that indicate that UK government debt will peak later and at a higher level than previously expected by Fitch".
The OBR is now predicting that general government gross debt (GGGD) will peak at 100.8% in 2016-17 - a level Fitch has previously suggested would result in a downgrade.
"The persistently weak performance of UK growth, in part due to European growth, has increased uncertainty around the UK's potential output and longer-term trend rate of growth with significant implications for public finances," said the agency.