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S&P downgrades Japan's outlook to 'negative'

By Aaron Smith, staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Standard & Poor's has revised Japan's credit rating outlook to "negative," blaming the crisis triggered by last month's earthquake.

S&P said late Tuesday that its revision to the nation's outlook, to "negative" from "stable," reflects the possibility of a downgrade, as Japan grapples with the specter of increased deficits in the wake of a deadly earthquake, tsunami and nuclear power plant disaster.

"Standard & Poor's expects costs related to the March 11, 2011, earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear power plant disaster will increase Japan's fiscal deficits above prior estimates by a cumulative 3.7% of GDP through 2013," said the rating agency.

The rating agency also said its revision to the outlook was "to reflect the potential for a downgrade if fiscal deterioration materially exceeds these estimates in the absence of greater fiscal consolidation."

S&P affirmed its long-term sovereign credit ratings for the country at AA- and short-term ratings at A-1+.

"Much will depend on Japan's political leadership and its ability to forge a political consensus on how to offset fiscal measures in the future," said S&P. "The extent of environmental contamination in northeastern Japan remains unknown."

S&P estimated that Japan's reconstruction could cost the country ¥30 trillion, which is equal to about $364 billion.

Japan isn't alone. On April 18, S&P lowered the outlook for the United States  To top of page

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