Focus on Greece, British finance minister says

Containing Greece's debt crisis is more important to European stability than the recent downgrades of nine euro area economies, Britain's Finance Minister George Osborne said Monday. On Friday Standard & Poor's cut the credit ratings of nine eurozone nations, including France, Italy and Spain.
The downgrades were largely expected and market fallout was muted. European stock markets ticked higher in early trade on Monday.

"I would say almost more so than the downgrading, the ongoing uncertainty about how they are going to write off some of the private sector debt in Greece is an almost greater source of instability at the moment in the eurozone,» Osborne was quoted by the Financial Times as saying to BBC radio on Monday.

The Greek government and its creditors return to the negotiating table this week to revive stalled talks on a debt swap. A deal on the swap must be struck well before March 20, when Greece has to make a 14.5 billion-euro bond payment.

Osborne, whose country is not a eurozone member, on Monday urged European Union leaders to do more to support the single currency. "What the euro needs to do is to show convincingly that it can stand behind its currency,» he said.

«We haven't actually seen much evidence of the pooled resources needed by the euro to actually provide confidence to the market that they will stand behind their own currency."


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