In a major slip-up, US ratings agency Standard & Poor's inadvertently sent out a message to subscribers earlier today that it had downgraded its top-notch credit rating for France from 'AAA'. The ratings agency has issued a clarification since and is investigating the cause of the error.
"As a result of a technical error, a message was automatically disseminated today to some subscribers of S&P's Global Credit Portal suggesting that France's credit rating had been changed," S&P said in a statement today.
It added the cause of the error was being investigated, adding that the ratings of France remained at 'AAA/A-1+' with a stable outlook and the incident was unrelated to any ratings surveillance activity.
The erroneous communication which reached some S&P subscribers triggered panic in France, which as chair of the G-20 grouping was playing a key role in trying to resolve the complex sovereign debt problems of the euro zone nations.
French finance minister Francois Baroin describing the episode as "quite shocking" asked regulators to investigate the cause, reports said.
He said France would not allow any negative message to pass to the market, and added it had a strategy, a commitment in terms of deficit reduction.