S&P affirms UK rating at AAA, outlook negative; Ireland at BBB+, outlook positive

London's financial district is seen behind the Thames Barrier late afternoon
London's financial district is seen behind the Thames Barrier late afternoon December 1, 2013. REUTERS/Russell Boyce

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Ratings agency Standard & Poor's on Friday affirmed the UK's long term sovereign rating at AAA/A-1+, saying the outlook was still negative.

S&P also affirmed Ireland's long term sovereign rating at BBB+/A-2 with the outlook remaining positive.

The ratings agency said the UK government continued to benefit from its "exceptional monetary flexibility", while the economy was recovering on the back of private consumption and residential investment.

The outlook, however, remained negative, reflecting risks to the sustainability of that growth, S&P said.

In Ireland, the ratings agency expects the government to reduce its debt burden through budgetary consolidation and asset sales, as the domestic economy improves. That will allow the country to exit the EU/IMF programme and maintain access to capital markets.

S&P said there was a more than one-in-three probability that it could raise its long-term ratings on Ireland in the next 18 months.

The agency also affirmed the AAA/A-1+ long- and short-term issuer credit ratings on the Bank of England.

(Reporting By Jane Wardell; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)