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S&P downgrades France by 'mistake'

S&P downgrades France by 'mistake'
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France has ordered an investigation into what it called a “shocking” error by Standard and Poor’s.

The credit ratings agency said it accidentally released a message yesterday downgrading France’s triple AAA status. The mistake contributed to the worst day for France’s government bonds since before the euro was launched in 1999.

France’s Finance Minister François Baroin reacted quickly to ward off concerns, explaining the latest moves to ensure the country keeps its top credit rating. “We will do what we said. In 2013 we will reduce our deficit to the level we had before the crisis of 2008-2009. In 2016 we will have 0% deficit. We’ve shown over the past two years that we were in a position to adapt (our economy) and show with the new plan, that we can adapt again,” he said.

Although the three largest agencies have a stable outlook on the country, Moody’s has recently said it could revise that outlook to negative by early next year if the costs for helping bail out banks and other euro zone members stretch France’s budget too much.

S&P, which is already under fire from European policy makers over recent downgrades of government debt, has offered little explanation about the causes of the accident so far.

The company said it was investigating how the erroneous message was automatically sent to some subscribers of its credit ratings website. It was not clear how many clients saw the message.