Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte speaks during a joint news conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin (not pictured) in the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, Oct. 24, 2018. Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is holding talks with Russian officials on his first trip to Moscow. (Sergei Chirikov/Pool Photo via AP)

Italy PM welcomes S&P move to maintain rating, lower outlook

October 27, 2018 - 5:37 am

MILAN (AP) — Italy's premier has welcomed Standard & Poor's decision to maintain Italy's rating while still lowering the financial outlook for the country to "negative" from "stable."

Premier Giuseppe Conte said Saturday the decision by the ratings agency was "correct in light of the economic solidity of the country," citing the competitiveness of Italian businesses and the high level of Italian private savings.

Italy escaped another downgrade in the Standard & Poor's decision, but the rating's agency noted that the populist government's policies are "weighing on the country's economic growth prospects, a critical driver of government debt-to-GDP trajectory."

The European Commission has rejected Italy's draft budget, which raises Italy's deficit to 2.4 percent of GDP, three times the previously agreed-upon level. Italy has three weeks to respond, but policy makers haven't indicated significant changes.

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