S&P affirms downgrades of bigger Italian banks

Associated Press

MILAN (AP) — Standard & Poor's has affirmed the downgrading of 15 of Italy's biggest banks, and has cut the ratings on 15 more.

The credit ratings agency says Tuesday that Italy's recession will be potentially deeper and more prolonged than previously thought. It says problem assets were mounting and that many banks had reduced provisions for loan losses, making them more vulnerable.

The downgrading of UniCredit SpA and Intesa Sanpaolo SpA was confirmed by S&P. Banca Carige SpA, Banca Popolare dell'Alto Adige and Unione di Banche Italiane, among others, also saw their ratings reduced.

S&P lowered its rating on 34 banks in February, citing the country's financial vulnerability and expectations of lower earnings.