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Euro slumps on financial markets, Jan 13 dubbed Black Friday

January 14, 2012, 3:30 UTC+3

Germany has retained the highest credit rating

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LONDON, January 14 (Itar-Tass) —— The European Union’s financial market closed with a heavy 1.08-percent slump in the exchange rate of the euro against the dollar this week. At 02:00 Moscow time one euro was trading for 1.2675 dollars.

The powerful drift away from the single European currency took place in the afternoon on Friday, when the market learned about the S&P’s impending lowering of the credit ratings of a group of countries in the euro area. These rumors were confirmed by 02:00 Moscow time on Saturday. For example, France and Austria have lost the highest ratings, and the ratings of financially embattled Italy and Spain were downgraded by two stages each.

One grade down are the sovereign credit ratings of Slovakia, Slovenia, Malta, and two grades down are those of Portugal and Cyprus.

Germany has retained the highest credit rating.

It is still difficult to predict the consequences of mass rating downgrades in the euro area. However, it is clear that they do not improve the prospects for its exit from the current heavy debt turmoil or for the rapid overcoming of a systemic financial crisis.

The financial position of the European Financial Stabilization Mechanism (EFSM) – the key crisis management structure - is deteriorating. Now, that one of the major financial guarantors of the EFSM - France – has lost its highest rating, there will follow an increase in the interest that it pays for the drawn funds, received to finance the efforts to stabilize the bond market in the euro area.

At the same time last Friday saw a sudden failure of the most important round of talks between Greece and the private banks on writing off part of the debt on Greek government bonds. According to sources in the business community, the parties could not agree on the interest that Greece would have to pay for new long-term bonds expected to replace the older ones, to be redeemed in the coming years.

Friday witnessed another unpleasant event for the euro area, as the global clearing system LCH.Clearnet increased the margin requirement for the government bonds of Italy. As a result, next week one should expect a collapse in the prices for this type of securities and an increase in yields.

The last day of the current trading week has already been called Black Friday in the business world. January 13 was the date when on the financial market of the euro area there occurred a series of negative events that increased the likelihood of a new round of the financial crisis.

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