EU Commission criticises Portuguese ratings downgrade

BRUSSELS, July 6 Wed Jul 6, 2011 6:46am EDT

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BRUSSELS, July 6 (Reuters) - The European Commission said on Wednesday it regretted the decision by Moody's ratings agency to downgrade Portugal's debt, saying the move underlined "questionable behaviour" of ratings agencies.

"...The timing of Moody's decision is not only questionable, but also based on absolutely hypothetical scenarios which are not in line at all with implementation. This is an unfortunate episode and it raises once more the issue of the appropriateness of behaviour of credit rating agencies," European Commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj told a regular news briefing.

European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso also said the decision added to the speculation in euro-zone debt.

"Yesterday's decisions by one rating agency does not provide more clarity. They rather add another speculative element to the situation," Barroso told a news conference in Strasbourg.

The downgrading of freshly bailed-out Portugal's credit rating to "junk" by Moody's shocked financial markets on Wednesday and cast new doubt on European efforts to rescue distressed euro zone states without debt restructuring.

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