Economy Briefs: European Union’s credit rating outlook downgraded by Moody’s

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NEW YORK — Moody's on Monday lowered the European Union’s long-term issuer rating outlook from stable to negative, saying the move reflected the negative outlooks of the bloc’s key budget contributors.

“It is reasonable to assume that the EU’s creditworthiness should move in line with the creditworthiness of its strongest key member states,” it said, citing negative outlooks for Britain, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

Moody's maintained the EU’s triple-A rating, saying its “two key rationales” for assigning the bloc its highest rating remained unchanged: its “conservative budget management” and “the creditworthiness and support provided by its 27 member states.”

Britain, France, Germany and the Netherlands — which together account for about 45 percent of the EU’s budget revenue, according to Moody's — also maintain a AAA credit rating.

ARUBA

Refinery to turn into storage facility

KINGSTON, Jamaica — Valero Energy Corp. announced Monday that it will convert its shuttered oil refinery on the southern Caribbean island of Aruba into a fuel storage facility, leaving hundreds of employees jockeying for positions at the downsizing operation.

The San Antonio, Texas-based company suspended refining operations in March at the Aruba refinery, which processed heavy, sour crude and once had a capacity of about 275,000 barrels a day. It said it stopped producing gasoline and other fuels at the site due to high oil prices and “unfavorable refinery economics.”

On Monday, Valero announced that it had decided to reorganize the unprofitable site into a storage terminal on the Dutch Caribbean island of just more than 100,000 inhabitants. For years, Valero has been trying unsuccessfully to sell the Aruba refinery, which the company says is still ready to restart if a buyer can be found.

Valero Chairman and CEO Bill Klesse said Aruba’s deep-water and smaller berths will give the terminal flexibility to load the biggest crude ships. “We believe that Aruba has the assets to compete as a world-scale crude and refined products terminal,” he said.

SPAIN

$125 billion seen as enough for banks

MADRID — Spain’s ailing banks won’t likely need to tap all the $125.7 billion that’s been made available by the country’s euro partners, Economy Minister Luis de Guindos said Monday.

In a further indication that Spain’s economic problems are not as acute as some in the markets have been fearing, Mr. De Guindos also insisted that no additional austerity measures will be needed to meet the Spanish government’s deficit-reduction target. Spain is battling to avoid the same bailout fate as Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus.

Mr. De Guindos, however, said Spain’s most troubled bank, Bankia, will get urgent aid, while two indebted Spanish regions appealed for emergency funding to deal with a crippling liquidity crunch.

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