Moody's Investors Service has downgraded the Italian government's credit rating by three notches to "A2," and it has given Italy a "negative outlook."
In a statement, the ratings agency said the "negative outlook reflects ongoing economic and financial risks in Italy and in the euro area" because of serious debt problems in some eurozone countries, such as Greece.
Moody's said its new rating indicates that Italy remains susceptible to financial shocks, but that the risk of default by the country remains remote.
In September, Italy's credit rating was also downgraded by the Standard & Poor's agency.
In a statement, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi said Moody's decision was expected, and that his government remains committed to achieving budget goals.
Berlusconi said a plan to balance the government's budget by 2013 has been approved by the European Commission, the European Union's executive body.
compiled from agency reports