Fearful of a spreading European debt crisis, Spain's government is seeking to reassure markets over its finances after Standard & Poor's decision to downgrade the country's credit rating.
Finance Minister Elena Salgado noted late Wednesday that Spain's rating is still high and that two other agencies still assign Spanish government bonds the highest-level rating. She said S&P's move is equivalent to being downgraded "from nine to eight" on a scale of 10.
The agency announced Wednesday it was cutting Spain's rating to AA from AA-plus amid concerns about the country's growth prospects following the collapse of a construction bubble.
Markets are worried that Spain could become engulfed in a debt crisis like Greece's, where a lack of trust in government finances causes borrowing costs to spiral higher.
Salgado said the agency later clarified that it feels Spain's current government debt levels are not the main problem.
Spain's overall debt stood at 53 percent of economic output last year and its deficit was equivalent to 11.2 percent of GDP. The government has enacted a 50 billion euros ($66.22 billion) austerity program to get the deficit down to the EU limit of 3 percent in 2013.
"We are implementing it and fulfilling the timetables we have set step by step, and the markets are going to see this," Salgado said.
She said that, were it not for the debt crisis in Greece, the decision to downgrade Spain's rating would not have attracted so much attention.
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