S&P cuts Spain's rating to lowest investment grade

Associated Press Modified: October 10, 2012 at 6:15 pm •  Published: October 10, 2012
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NEW YORK (AP) — Standard & Poor's downgraded its rating on Spain's debt Wednesday by two notches, leaving it on the cusp of junk status.

A grinding recession, high unemployment and social unrest are limiting the government's options for stemming the country's financial crisis, S&P said.

The credit-rating agency now rates debt issued by Spain BBB-, its lowest investment-grade status. It had been BBB+.

S&P also assigned a negative outlook to the rating, saying it could be further downgraded if Spain's economic conditions erode further.

"Overall, against the backdrop of a deepening economic recession, we believe that the government's resolve will be repeatedly tested by domestic constituencies that are being adversely affected by its policies," S&P said.

It also cited difficulty in predicting the extent to which other countries in the 17-nation eurozone would come to Spain's aid. It had previously assumed a key European bailout fund would help recapitalize the country's shaky banks without piling more debt on the central government in Madrid. But now any recapitalization plan will likely add more debt, S&P said.

Investors are worried that Spanish banks could collapse under the weight of an imploding real-estate market.

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