November 11, 2011 / 10:25 PM / 8 years ago

S&P says France rating error due to technical glitch

A flag flies from the roof of France's former Bourse or stock market building Paris August 18, 2010. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/Files

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Standard & Poor’s on Friday said an erroneous announcement downgrading France’s triple-A credit rating was caused by a technical error emanating from a review of national banking systems.

The review on Thursday accidentally caused the firm’s computer system to change France’s Banking Industry Country Risk Assessment (BICRA) ranking to “N/A,” or not available.

“The system mistakenly interpreted this change as a ‘downgrade,’ and triggered a message to a limited number of subscribers who had signed up to receive e-mail alerts,” S&P said in a statement.

S&P declined to comment on whether or not there was any disciplinary action taken as a result of the mistake.

“We are in regular communication and cooperate with inquiries made by our regulators,” S&P spokesman John Piecuch wrote in an e-mail to Reuters.

The erroneous alert on Thursday, which S&P said was sent to some of its subscribers, fed concerns that Europe’s debt problems had engulfed the region’s second-largest economy. It contributed to the worst day for France’s government bonds since before the euro was launched in 1999.

French Finance Minister Francois Baroin called S&P’s error “quite shocking” and asked regulators to investigate its causes and consequences. French financial markets regulator AMF opened a probe into the case right after that.

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