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Fitch drives Cyprus deeper into junk status

Friday - 1/25/2013, 3:03pm  ET

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) -- International credit rating agency Fitch has downgraded Cyprus a couple more notches into junk status amid concerns that the government's support for the country' troubled banks could cost more than previously thought.

The agency cut its rating on Cyprus to B from BB- and warned of more possible downgrades as it predicted that the banks' recapitalization needs could be as high as EUR10 billion ($13.5 billion).

That would push the size of the rescue package that Cyprus is trying to finalize with the other 16 European Union countries that use the euro and the International Monetary Fund to over EUR17 billion.

That, Fitch said Friday, would drive the country's debt load to over 140 percent of its annual gross domestic product, 20 percentage points more than the agency previously estimated.

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