Standard & Poor’s is expected to release its eagerly awaited verdict on debt ratings for 15 euro zone countries in January, two independent European government sources told Reuters.

“We have got an informal signal from Standard & Poor’s that they will come only in January,” said one source who declined to be named because exchanges with the rating agency are confidential.

“In conversations we have had, they have let this be known if you read between the lines,” he added.

He said he could only speak for his country but assumed all 15 countries under review would learn of the decision at the same time.

A senior euro zone source from another country also said the ratings agency’s decision was likely to come next month.

S&P warned on Dec. 6 that it may carry out an unprecedented mass downgrade of credit ratings of euro zone countries if EU leaders failed to agree on how to solve the region’s debt crisis at a Dec. 9 summit.

The ratings agency said it expected to conclude its review as soon as possible after the summit. An S&P spokesman declined to comment on Thursday.

The ratings agency placed 15 euro zone countries on credit watch negative — including those of top-rated Germany and France, the region’s two biggest economies — and said “systemic stresses” were building up as credit conditions tighten in the 17-nation bloc.

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