Investors Rattled By Standard & Poor's Alert

The rating agency Standard and Poor's sent out an alert downgrading France's debt on Thursday. It turned out to be a false alarm, but it took nearly two hours for S&P to clarify that. S&P says it's investigating the mistake.

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

NPR's business news starts with S&P saying: Sorry about that.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

INSKEEP: The ratings agency Standard and Poor's has made a lot of headlines for downgrading sovereign debt. Markets went into a tailspin last summer when S&P lowered the U.S. credit rating. That decision also prompted fierce criticism of S&P itself. Investors were rattled again when Standard and Poor's sent out an alert yesterday downgrading the debt of France. Turned out to be a false alarm, but it took almost two hours for S&P to clarify that. S&P says it's investigating the mistake, and so, as you might imagine, are the French.

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