* Magistrates probe "anomalous" share price moves
* S&P, Moody's defend their work
(adds Moody's comment paragraph 6)
MILAN, Aug 4 Italian prosecutors have seized
documents at the offices of rating agencies Moody's and Standard
& Poor's in a probe over suspected "anomalous" fluctuations in
Italian share prices, a prosecutor said on Thursday.
The measure is aimed at "verifying whether these agencies
respect regulations as they carry out their work," Carlo Maria
Capistro, who heads the prosecutors' office in the southern town
of Trani which is leading the probe, told Reuters.
The documents were seized at the Milan offices of the two
agencies on Wednesday, he said, adding that prosecutors had also
asked Italian market regulator Consob to provide documents
relating to their registration in Italy.
S&P in Italy said in a statement it believed the probe was
"We strongly defend our work, our reputation and that of our
analysts," it said.
Moody's said it "takes its responsibilities surrounding the
dissemination of market sensitive information very seriously and
is cooperating with the authorities."
The Trani prosecutors have opened two probes -- one for each
rating agency -- after a complaint by two consumer groups over
the impact of their reports about Italy on Milan stock prices.
The first complaint was filed against Moody's after it
published a report in May 2010 about the risk of contagion for
Italian banks from the Greek crisis.
A second complaint filed in May this year targeted Standard
& Poor's after it threatened to downgrade Italy's credit rating
because of its huge public debt.
The prosecutors are also investigating whether any crimes
were committed during a sell-off in Italian assets on July 8 and
July 11 as fears spread that the euro zone's third largest
economy is being sucked into the widening debt crisis.
One of the consumer groups behind the complaints said the
probe was aimed at finding out whether the market's sharp drop
was due to a "precise scheme by hedge funds and other
unidentified players that could be linked to the negative
comments about Italian public finances by the rating agencies."
Consob last month summoned Moody's and S&P for meetings and
urged them not to release their statements during market hours.
(Reporting by Sara Rossi and Valentina Za; Editing by Anna