S&P lowers France credit rating to AA from AA+

Reuters

Standard & Poor's lowered its long-term foreign and local currency sovereign credit ratings on France on Friday by one notch to 'AA' from 'AA+', citing high unemployment as undermining support for needed structural reforms.

French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici reacted by saying his country's debt remained among the safest and liquid in the world, criticizing what he said were "inaccurate criticisms" of Europe's number 2 economy.

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"During the last 18 months the government has implemented major reforms aimed at improving the French economic situation, restoring its public finances, and its competitiveness," he said in a statement.

He added that French debt, which has yet to start trading, benefitted from historically low rates.

Ratings agency Fitch last week upgraded the outlook on Spain's credit rating, pointing to a convergence between France - typically considered a core euro zone member - and Spain, usually described as a peripheral state.

(Reporting by Dominique Vidalon and Nick Vinocur, editing by Elizabeth Piper)