Credit Downgrade Rumors Hurt European Stocks

French bank stocks have plummeted, and stocks across Europe are down sharply. A major concern is the possibility of a credit rating downgrade for France's top banks. Reports say Moody's Investors Service may cut its rating on major banks in the country because of their exposure to Greek government debt.

DAVID GREENE, host:

NPR's business news starts with French banks stirring up more anxiety.

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GREENE: French bank stocks have plummeted today. In fact, stocks across Europe are down sharply. A major concern is the possibility of a credit rating downgrade for France's top banks. News reports say Moody's Investors Service may cut its rating on major banks in the country because of their exposure to Greek government debt.

There's also more talk today of a Greek government default. Shares in one top French bank, Societe Generale, have lost half their value since the beginning of August.

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