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S&P Downgrades Dozens of Global Banks

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Standard & Poor’s

on Tuesday cut its credit ratings for many of the world’s largest banks, including Citigroup (NYSE: C), Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) and Bank of America (NYSE: BAC). The move follows S&P’s shift, announced earlier this month, in the methods it uses for rating the banks. Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America Corp. each had their long-term credit rating downgraded a single notch to A- from A. Similar cuts were applied to JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM), Wells Fargo & Co. (NYSE: WFC) and Morgan Stanley (NYSE: MS).


Home prices continued to sink in the third quarter, falling to levels not seen since early 2003. Home prices dropped 3.9% year-over-year during the three months ended Sept. 30, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller national home price index. On a quarterly basis, prices were slightly higher, squeezing out a 0.1% gain. One bright spot was that the declines have started to slow. During the second quarter, prices were down 5.8% year-over-year. "Any chance for a sustained recovery will probably need a stronger economy," said David Blitzer, a spokesman for S&P.


International companies are preparing contingency plans for a possible break-up of the eurozone, according to interviews with dozens of multinational executives. Concerned that Europe’s political leaders are failing to control the spreading sovereign debt crisis, business executives say they feel compelled to protect their companies against a crash that can no longer be wished away. When German chancellor Angela Merkel and French president Nicolas Sarkozy raised the prospect of a Greek exit from the eurozone earlier this month, it marked the first time that senior European officials had dared to question the permanence of their 13-year-old experiment with monetary union.


Chinese manufacturing activity contracted for the first time in almost three years in November, adding to fears about the health of the global economy. News of the decline came a day after the US Federal Reserve led a co-ordinated move to ease global liquidity concerns and the Chinese central bank loosened monetary policy. Chinese government data released on Thursday showed the official purchasing managers’ index fell to 49 in November from 50.4 in October, with a reading below 50 indicating a fall-off in manufacturing. November’s contraction was the first since February 2009.


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