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S&P Cuts Italy Rating on Weak Growth Outlook

Italy’s credit rating was cut by Standard & Poor’s on concern that weakening economic growth and a “fragile” government mean the nation won’t be able to reduce the euro-region’s second-largest debt burden.

The rating was lowered to A from A+, with a negative outlook, S&P said in a statement. S&P said Italy’s net general government debt is the highest among A-rated sovereigns, and the company now expects it to peak later and at a higher level than it previously anticipated.

The decision sent the euro sliding for a third day against the dollar as investor concern rose that European policy makers will fail to contain the debt crisis. Greece’s government plans another call with its main creditors today as it seeks to stave off default, while U.S. Treasury Timothy F. Geithner urged the region to adopt additional tools.

“It’s a reminder that we’ve had the market in control but policy makers have been slow to think in any forward-looking context,” said Adrian Foster, head of financial-market research for Asia at Rabobank Groep NV in Hong Kong. “Policy makers across the euro zone have been well and truly asleep at the wheel for quite a while now and are only taking measures when the market pushes them to it.”