Standard & Poor's roiled global equity, bond, currency and commodity markets Thursday when it sent and then corrected an erroneous message to subscribers suggesting France's top credit rating had been downgraded.
S&P's erroneous message was put out at 3:57 p.m. Paris time. The company sent a release at 5:40 p.m. Paris time saying the message was incorrect and affirming France's AAA rating.
After the mistaken announcement, the benchmark Stoxx Europe 600 extended its decline to 1.5% and French 10-year bond yields surged as much as 28 basis points to 3.48%, the highest level since July. The euro also pared gains and U.S. equities briefly dropped.
A downgrade of France's credit rating would affect the rating of the European Financial Stability Facility, the bailout fund for struggling eurozone countries that has funded rescue packages for Greece, Ireland and Portugal partially through bond sales. If the EFSF has to pay higher interest on its bonds, it may not be able to provide as much funding for indebted nations.
Martin Winn, an S&P spokesman in London, didn't immediately reply to a request for additional comment after forwarding the rating notes.
The euro rose 0.58% to $1.3609 at 2:15 p.m. EST before after paring its gain to $1.304. The S&P 500 dropped as much as 0.1% to 1,227.7 after the erroneous announcement, but recovered to be up 0.86% to 1,240.84.