Markets are circulating reports that Standard & Poor's has warned at least six European countries that their top-tier credit rating is at risk of a downgrade in the next three months.
S&P will review the credit of the six AAA-rated members of the euro zone -- and most of the others -- following Friday's summit of European leaders.
A bad or even inconclusive resolution to the summit could easily result in one or more of these countries falling to AA+ status -- where the United States is now -- in the next 90 days.
Germany, Luxembourg, Austria, Finland, the Netherlands and France are the names on the reported list.
Between them, they account for roughly 60% of the combined gross domestic product (GDP) of the entire 17-nation euro zone.
The news has been circulating after the European close, leaving ETFs for Germany ( EWG , quote ) and France ( EWQ , quote ) as the main trading vehicles reflecting market response. Both are marginally higher compared to yesterday's close, but trending toward their intraday lows.
The European debt fund ( EU , quote ), euro-linked currency fund ( FXE , quote ) and even the Europe-heavy developed markets funds like ( EFA ( quote ) are also drifting to their intraday lows as the news spreads.
The August downgrade of U.S. credit sparked massive systemic volatility in global markets. By this point, a lot of bad news has already been priced into the euro zone, but sentiment is still more likely to drop if one of the rating agencies confirms what may be inevitable.