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S&P Places 15 Euro Nations on Rating Downgrade Watch

ECB Said to Start 40 Billion-Euro Covered Bond Purchases
The European Central Bank, based in Frankfurt, announced its new purchase program on Nov. 3, loosening the conditions compared with a similar plan two years ago to allow it buy from smaller issues. Photographer: Hannelore Foerster/Bloomberg

Standard & Poor’s said Germany and France may be stripped of their AAA credit ratings as the debt crisis prompts the ratings company to put 15 euro nations on review for possible downgrade.

Germany, France, Netherlands, Austria, Finland and Luxembourg, the euro area’s six AAA rated countries, are among the nations being placed on “CreditWatch negative,” pending the result of a summit of European Union leaders on Dec. 9, S&P said.

The downgrade warnings come as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy push for a rewrite of the EU’s governing rules to tighten economic cooperation in a demonstration of unity on ending the debt crisis. With the fate of the currency shared by the 17 euro countries at risk, Merkel and Sarkozy presented a common platform for a Dec. 8-9 summit of EU leaders in Brussels that aims to halt the crisis now in its third year.

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