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S&P Global Ratings eyes higher '16 growth for PHL means BUSINESS

MANILA, Philippines -- Sustained robust growth of the Philippine economy in the first half of 2016 made S&P Global Ratings consider a higher output for the country this year.

In a report entitled "Asia-Pacific Steadies While China Goes Silent," the credit rater said the country is expected to remain among the strongest in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

In its latest report, the debt watcher eyes a growth range of 6 to 6.9 percent for the Philippines this year.

Its 2017 projection is a range between 5.6 percent and 6.7 percent while growth in 2018 is seen to stay between 5.7 percent and 6.7 percent.

Last May, S&P Global Ratings projected a six percent output for the country this year and 6.3 percent for 2017.

"The Southeast Asian economies are seeing stable growth with the Philippines outperforming the region, given its growing middle class, a business process outsourcing boom, and expansionary fiscal policy with emphasis on public infrastructure," it said.

In the first half of the year, the country registered a growth, as measured by gross domestic product (GDP), of 6.9 percent, one of the highest in the region during the period.

In the second quarter alone, growth posted a seven percent expansion, the highest in the region.

Domestic expansion is continuously driven by remittances and the business process outsourcing (BPO) sector, among others.

The government's growth target this 2016 is a range between 6 and 7 percent.

It has yet to announce the domestic economy's output for the third quarter of the year.

The S&P report said Asia Pacific economies were "relatively quiet" in the third quarter as "growth trends have been stable and financial markets have been fairly calm."

"Strong growth continued in the Philippines and Vietnam," it added.

Last September, the debt rater affirmed its ratings and outlook on the Philippines due to the robustness of the economy in recent years as well as the strong external payments position, backed by rising foreign exchange reserves and low and declining foreign liabilities.

To date, it has a 'BBB' rating with 'Stable' outlook on the country's long-term rating, 'A-2' short-term sovereign rating and 'axA/axA-2' ASEAN regional scale rating.