Six European countries in ratings downgrade
RATINGS agency Moody's has downgraded six European countries and has become the first to warn that the UK's rating could be at risk.
Moody's says that it has concerns over the debt crisis on the continent, how it is being handled and the impact on the region's various economies were at the heart of the downgrades.
The move came a surprise as there had been no indication the UK's outlook was necessarily in danger.
Standard & Poor's and Fitch Ratings both made multiple downgrades last month but they have a stable outlook on their UK rating.
UK Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne said the negative outlook outlines that Britain must stick to its plan to deal with the country's debt.
He said that the only thing stopping an immediate downgrade of the UK was the government's fiscal-consolidation plan.
"This is a reality check for anyone who thinks Britain can duck confronting its debt," Mr Osborne said.
Britain, France and Austria have all been placed on a negative credit outlook.
Moody's, which said late last year it was reconsidering its European ratings, cut by one notch the ratings of Italy, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta and downgraded Spain by two notches. The US rating agency said Germany's top-tier rating is "appropriate" and it affirmed the AAA rating on the eurozone's bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Fund.