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European stocks dip; Paris down 0.27% after downgrade

European stock markets fell at the start of trading on Tuesday, as investors digested news that Moody's has stripped France of its coveted triple-A credit rating, analysts said.

In Paris, the benchmark CAC 40 index of leading shares dropped 0.27 percent to 3,430.24 points, as Moody's cut the French government bond rating by one notch to "Aa1" and warned that an additional downgrade was possible.

Elsewhere, London's FTSE 100 index of top companies shed 0.42 percent to 5,713.81 points and Frankfurt's DAX 30 dropped 0.36 percent to 7,098.13.

"Ten months after ratings agency Standard and Poor's, Moody's pulled the trigger on France's triple-A rating last night, downgrading it to Aa1 with a negative outlook citing an uncertain fiscal outlook along with a gradual sustained lack of competitiveness and deteriorating economic prospects," said CMC Markets analyst Michael Hewson.

"The agency also warned that the ability of the French economy to respond to further shocks was diminishing due to the country's high exposure to the rapidly deteriorating Spanish and Greek economies."

Meanwhile, eurozone finance ministers were due to meet in Brussels on Tuesday on a likely agreement to hand debt-plagued Athens the latest installment of cash it needs to avoid bankruptcy.