sp-1.siUS-based credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s has cut Russia’s sovereign rating to BBB-, leaving it below investment grade for the first time in a decade. Moscow termed the decision “overly pessimistic.” “The downgrade reflects our view that Russia’s monetary policy flexibility has become more limited and its economic growth prospects have weakened. We also see a heightened risk that external and fiscal buffers will deteriorate due to rising external pressures and increased government support to the economy,” said a statement from the agency. The ruble fell from 66.3 to over 69 per dollar. As it experienced downward pressure through the early hours of Monday, the Russian currency has now fallen by over 8 percent since the previous trading day. Russia’s Finance minister said S & P’s move was “overly pessimistic, and did not take into account the strengths of the Russian economy.” Among its advantages he listed Russia’s considerable foreign currency reserves, a positive balance of payments, and low levels of state debt. The official urged investors to “avoid dramatizing the situation.” More