France and Austria lost their top credit ratings at Standard& Poor's in a swathe of downgrades that left Germany with theeuro area's only stable AAA grade, hindering leaders' efforts tostem the region's fiscal crisis.

France and Austria were cut one level to AA+ from AAA and facethe risk of further reductions, the rating company said inFrankfurt today. While Finland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg kepttheir AAA ratings, they were put on negative watch. Spain and Italywere also downgraded. The first gauge of the report's impact willcome on Jan. 16 when France sells as much as 8.7 billion euros ($11billion) in bills.

“In our view, the policy initiatives taken by European policymakers in recent weeks may be insufficient to fully address ongoingsystemic stresses in the euro zone,” S&P said in astatement.

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