02/13/2012 06:56 EST | Updated 04/14/2012 05:12 EDT

Moody's cuts ratings on Italy, Portugal, Spain; outlook 'negative' for France, Austria, UK

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Rating agency Moody's Investor Service has downgraded its credit ratings on Italy, Portugal and Spain, while lowering the outlook for its ratings on France, Britain and Austria to "negative" from "stable."

Moody's also cut its ratings on the smaller nations of Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta.

It says it took the actions due to the uncertainty over European Union financial reforms, the region's weak economic outlook and the resulting pressure on fragile markets.