Standard & Poor's Ratings Services has stripped triple-A ratings from France and Austria and downgraded seven others, including Spain, Italy and Portugal on their sovereign debt. However, it has retained the triple-A rating on Europe's No. 1 economy, Germany.
S&P cut the debt ratings of France and Austria by one notch to AA+ from triple-A. Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia were also downgraded by one notch. S&P lowered the ratings of Italy, Spain, Portugal and Cyprus by two notches.
Incidentally, S&P, had placed 15 of the 17 euro-zone countries on watch in December for possible downgrades It decided to lower the debt ratings of nine of them because it felt the currency bloc has so far failed to take adequate action. Experts now believe that world markets could head for further turmoil as a consequence of these downgrades this week.