29 Apr 2010

Spain's credit rating downgraded

7:01 pm on 29 April 2010

Europe's debt crisis has widened as Spain was hit with a credit downgrade and Germany came under further pressure to agree quickly to a financial rescue plan for Greece.

The Standard & Poor's ratings agency has downgraded Spain's debt to AA from AA+, citing the country's weak growth prospects after the collapse of a credit-fuelled housing and construction bubble.

International Monetary Fund head Dominique Strauss-Kahn is in Berlin trying to persuade Germany to agree to a rescue plan for Greece, warning the crisis there could spread throughout Europe.

Greece has become the first eurozone member to have its debt downgraded to what is known as junk status. Standard & Poor's lowered the rating on Greece's debt to BB+ from BBB-. Portugal's debt rating has also been lowered to A-.

As Europe's largest economy, Germany would provide the biggest single loan to Greece among the eurozone nations.

The aid package being offered by the European Union and IMF is currently 45 billion euros but there are claims that the total cost could be up to 120 billion euros over three years.

Mr Strauss-Kahn says the deal needs to be implemented quickly as the situation in Greece is getting worse every day.

United States president Barack Obama has telephoned German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the Greek financial crisis.

The White House says the pair agreed Greece must take resolute action with support from the IMF and the European Union.

But Ms Merkel says Berlin needs to be certain that Greece is serious about spending cuts.