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Germany's Credit Rating On Negative Watch

(c) Sky News 2012

World markets (Xetra: A0NJ8B - news) remain on edge after the eurozone's powerhouse economy was told its precious triple-A credit rating was at risk because of the wider Euro debt crisis.

The ratings agency Moody's confirmed it had placed the credit outlook of not only Germany but also those of the Netherlands and Luxembourg on negative watch from stable, citing that no-one was immune from the effects of the economic gloom.

There were tentative gains among European stock markets on opening Tuesday but nerves persisted following the sell-offs of the past two trading sessions - largely over growing fears that Spain, the fourth largest economy in the single currency, will become the fourth nation to seek a state bailout with potentially Italy following.

Mellow loses occured on the FTSE 100 (Euronext: VFTSE.NX - news) , which closed on Tuesday 0.63% down, the Dax (Xetra: ^GDAXI - news) was off 0.45%, and the Cac 40 (Paris: ^FCHI - news) ended with a 0.87% dip.

However significant falls occured in Spain and Italy, with the Ibex dropping 3.58% and the Mib falling some 2.71%.

In its announcement, Moody's said Germany, the Netherlands and Luxembourg all faced risks from Greece leaving the eurozone and from the need to stump up cash for potential bailouts of Spain and even Italy.

Moody's said: "The level of uncertainty about the outlook for the euro area, and the potential impact of plausible scenarios on member states, are no longer consistent with stable outlooks."

Even if Greece survives, the agency warned that richer nations would likely shoulder greater burdens in future.

"The continued deterioration in Spain and Italy's macroeconomic and funding environment has increased the risk that they will require some kind of external support," Moody's said.

The government of Chancellor Angela Merkel has been frequently criticised for not getting ahead of the crisis.

Moody's reiterated those concerns, pointing to a "reactive and gradualist policy response" by European leaders as cause of concern.

Germany, which is reluctant to have its taxpayers on the hook for profligate spending in southern Europe (Chicago Options: ^REURUSD - news) said it would "do all it can with its partners to overcome the European debt crisis as quickly as possible."

But its statement also defended the handling of the crisis to date.

"The eurozone has initiated a series of measures which should lead to the durable stabilising of the zone," the German finance ministry said.

On Tuesday, Spanish borrowing costs over 10 years remained at 7.64% - still well above the 7% level seen as unsustainable in the long term while Greece prepared to host inspectors from the European Central Bank (ECB), the International Monetary Fund (IMF (Berlin: MXG1.BE - news) ) and the European Union (EU).

The inspectors will determine whether Greece is meeting spending commitments under its bailout conditions.

Germany has been among those to warn Athens that it will not receive any more funds should it be failing to implement the demanded savings.

It is widely understood this will be a difficult inspection for the Greek Government.

The country's prime minister has admitted Greece's recession may be deeper than 7% this year.

Prime Minister Antonis Samaras also said the latest estimates were that the country would not return to growth before 2014.

Greece is in a fifth straight year of recession and blames the deeper than expected contraction for missing its tax revenue and budget deficit goals.