Moody’s Cuts European Sovereigns Including Italy, Spain

Moody’s Investors Service cut the debt ratings of six European countries including Italy, Spain and Portugal and revised its outlook on the U.K.’s and France’s top Aaa ratings to “negative,” citing Europe’s debt crisis.

Spain was downgraded to A3 from A1 with a negative outlook, Italy was downgraded to A3 from A2 with a negative outlook and Portugal was downgraded to Ba3 from Ba2 with a negative outlook, Moody’s said. It also reduced the ratings of Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta.

“The uncertainty over the euro area’s prospects for institutional reform of its fiscal and economic framework” and the resources that will be made available to deal with the crisis, are among the main drivers of Moody’s action, the ratings company said.

The euro slipped 0.2 percent to $1.3154, and the pound weakened 0.3 percent to $1.5723.

Standard & Poor’s took away France’s and Austria’s top credit ratings last month in a string of downgrades. Investors poured money into the government bonds of nations such as France and Austria even after the countries lost their AAA ratings at Standard & Poor’s last month.

Moody’s also lowered its outlook on Austria’s Aaa rating today to negative outlook. Malta’s rating was downgraded to A3 from A2 and given a negative outlook, and Slovakia and Slovenia were both downgraded to A2 from A1 and given negative outlooks.

“Europe’s increasingly weak macroeconomic prospects, which threaten the implementation of domestic austerity programs and the structural reforms that are needed to promote competitiveness,” are also factors, Moody’s said in a statement. These factors will continue to affect market confidence, “which is likely to remain fragile, with a high potential for further shocks to funding conditions for stressed sovereigns and banks.”

French and Austrian securities beat AAA rated company debt since the two nations were deprived of the highest ranking at S&P on Jan. 13. U.S. Treasuries returned three times as much as AAA corporate bonds since the world’s biggest economy was cut by one rank in August.

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