Standard & Poor's cut the credit ratings of nine European countries on Friday in a widely-anticipated move. Rumors that the downgrades were imminent had been circulating in various reports throughout the day.
S&P lowered its long-term rating on Cyprus, Italy, Portugal and Spain by two notches, and cut its rating on Austria, France, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia by one notch.
"Today's rating actions are primarily driven by our assessment that the policy initiatives that have been taken by European policy makers in recent weeks may be insufficient to fully address ongoing systemic stresses in the euro zone," S&P said in a press release announcing the downgrade.
The credit-rating agency affirmed the current long-term ratings for Belgium, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.