S&P upgrades Russia outlook to positive

The ruble's exchange rates have risen dramatically in recent months, strengthening to less than 60 rubles to the euro for the first time since June 2015

The Standard and Poor's agency raised its outlook for Russia's credit rating to "positive" from "stable" on Friday, citing improving growth prospects and a lower risk of large capital outflows.

The agency said that after two years of recession, Russia was expected to resume positive economic growth this year, "averaging about 1.7 percent in 2017-2020."

But the agency added that "relatively low prices, structural impediments and sanctions" will however continue to hinder a rebound in GDP, which it expects will increase by 1.5 percent this year.

S&P said it considered that the Russian banking sector remained fragile but that it saw "some early signs of stabilisation."

The agency said it could raise Russia's ratings if its economy continued to adapt to relatively low oil prices while "maintaining its strong net external asset position and comparatively low net general government debt burden."

Russia's economy has appeared to stabilise over the last months after a recession that has weighed on people's purchasing power and pushed large segments of the population into poverty.

The ruble -- battered by falling oil prices and Western sanctions in 2014 and 2015 -- has risen dramatically in recent months and last month strengthened to fewer than 60 rubles to the euro for the first time since June 2015 as oil prices recovered.