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S&P lowers credit ratings of nine euro area countries

January 14, 2012, 2:48 UTC+3

The highest credit rating - AAA was lost by France and Austria

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NEW YORK, January 14 (Itar-Tass) —— The international rating agency Standard&Poor's has downgraded the long-term sovereign credit ratings of nine countries in the euro area. It declared the decision in a statement released on Friday night.

According to Standard and Poor’s the highest credit rating - AAA was lost by France and Austria, which are now rated one notch lower AA+. One step down are the ratings of Malta (from A to A-), Slovakia (from A+ to A) and Slovenia (from AA-to A+).

In addition, the agency lowered by two points its ratings of Cyprus (from BBB to BB+), Italy (from A to BBB+), Portugal (from BBB-to BB) and Spain (from AA-to A).

The credit ratings of Belgium (AA), Estonia (AA-/, Finland (AAA), Germany (AAA), Ireland (BVB+), Luxembourg (AAA) and the Netherlands (AAA) have been left unchanged.

The outlooks for the ratings of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Spain are set to negative, which means that they may be downgraded in 2012 or 2013.

The outlooks for Germany and Slovakia are stable.

The action taken by the European politicians in recent weeks is not enough to fully address the euro area’s problems, the agency said.

In early December, Standard & Poor's placed on the review list the ratings of 15 out of the 17 countries of the European Monetary Union, including those that had the highest rating at that time - Germany, France, the Netherlands, Austria, Finland and Luxembourg.

In August, Standard and Poor’s downgraded by one notch the highest credit rating of the U.S. due to the increasing budget deficit and public debt.

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