Italy Facing Credit Rating Cut, but Not France

Posted January 10th, 2012 at 10:10 am (UTC-5)
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A major financial services company says that Italy faces a “significant chance” of having its credit rating cut soon, but that it has no plans to downgrade France’s top credit standing.

Fitch Ratings said Tuesday it is confident that the 17-nation European bloc that uses the euro will not break apart. But its sovereign ratings chief, David Riley, said in London that Fitch could trim the credit standings for Italy, Spain and four other eurozone countries by a notch or two by the end of January, which would likely boost their borrowing costs.

Financial experts are most worried about Italy, the eurozone’s third largest economy. They are fearful that the debt-ridden country could need an international bailout like Greece, Ireland and Portugal, but that its debts would be too large for Europe to handle. Riley said that, in his words, the “future of the euro will be decided at the gates of Rome.”

Fitch has been reviewing France’s top AAA credit standing. But Riley said it has has no plans to cut the rating for the currency bloc’s second biggest economy unless the country sustains some major economic shock.

European leaders are attempting to work out details of a new European Union treaty to control the spending of individual governments.