Greece's downgrade by Fitch Ratings is the first in a series ofratings cuts that the nation can expect after it negotiated thebiggest sovereign debt restructuring in history.

Fitch lowered Greece's credit grade by two levels to C from CCC,saying a default is “highly likely in the near term,” and that itwill cut the nation again to “Restricted Default” once a bondexchange is completed. Standard & Poor's said in July itexpected to downgrade Greece to “Selective Default” after therestructuring agreement, while Moody's Investors Service has saidit will cut the nation to its lowest rating.

Greece sealed a 130 billion-euro ($170 billion) bailout packageby agreeing yesterday to austerity measures while reducing its bondprincipal by 53.5 percent as investors swap into new securitieswith longer maturities and lower coupons. Fitch and S&P haveboth said they expect to later raise Greece's ratings once the dealhas been completed.

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