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S&P downgrades nine euro zone nations

TV AND WEB RESTRICTIONS~** NONE ** More doom and gloom for economies across the euro zone. On what is now called "Black Friday", Standard & Poor's agency downgraded the credit ratings of nine European countries, stripping France and Austria of their coveted triple-A status. (SOUNDBITE) (English) JOHN CHAMBERS, STANDARD AND POOR'S HEAD OF SOVEREIGN RATINGS U.S. "The measures that have been taken so far - simply to tighten the fiscal rules - we think is a misdiagnosis of the problem, which we see more of one of competitiveness." French fund managers say the news could have been much worse. SOUNDBITE) (English) FUND MANAGER, KBL RICHELIEU, JEREMY GAUDICHON "Some rumours in recent weeks had raised the possibility of an even bigger cut in the rating." However, the Portuguese didn't fare as well, with S&P downgrading the country two notches to junk status. Lisbon residents are concerned they face further austerity measures. (SOUNDBITE) (Portuguese) LISBON RESIDENT, SILVINO SILVA "I think it will have a big effect on us because if we need to ask for more money, more austerity measures will be put in place and it will be very complicated." Spain's rating also fell two notches, prompting residents to question S&P's methodology. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) DELIVERY MAN, EMILIO, SAYING: "These rating agencies do what they want. Depending of what they want they raise or cut the rating, the next week you can see your rate raised. As I say this is a lottery." Italians in Rome are worried about the future now that their nation shares the same BBB+ rating as Kazakhstan. (SOUNDBITE) (Italian) ROME RESIDENT, CHIARA MELONI "I don't know what to say. It seems that as we move forward the worse it gets. I don't see anything positive in the future. I am a pessimistic person, and I think if we continue like this it will be us heading to Romania on the boats." Germany is the euro zone's major economy that escaped unscathed to retain its top, triple-A rating and stable outlook. S&P analysts predict things could get worse, classifying 14 euro zone countries with negative outlooks. Jessica Gray, Reuters

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