S&P downgrades France, Italy, others
Thursday, January 12, 2012
PARIS (AP) -- Ratings agency Standard & Poor's has downgraded the government debt of France, Austria, Italy and Spain, but maintained Germany's at the coveted 'AAA' level.
The cuts, which eliminated France and Austria's triple-A status, deal a heavy blow to the currency union's ability to fight off a worsening debt crisis. In total, S&P cut its ratings on nine eurozone countries.
France and Austria both dropped one notch to AA+. Italy was lowered by two notches to BBB+ from A, and Spain fell to A from AA-. Portugal and Cyprus also dropped two notches. The agency also cut ratings on Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia.
The downgrades come as crucial talks on cutting Greece's massive debt pile appeared close to collapse Friday.