Europe cracks down on ratings agencies

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Standard & Poor's is facing a growing backlash in Europe after the ratings agency erroneously sent a message suggesting France's pristine credit rating had been downgraded. The incident on Thursday prompted French regulators and the S&P to open separate investigations. S&P later clarified that the message was the result of a "technical error" and that its rating on France remains at AAA, with a stable outlook.

An S&P spokesman stressed Friday that it was a mistake, and that the rating for France posted on the agency's website never changed.

But that didn't stop the outrage."This incident is serious and it shows that in the current tense and volatile market situation, market players must exercise discipline and demonstrate a special sense of responsibility," European Commissioner Michel Barnier said Friday.

The French Financial Market Authority has already launched an investigation into the mishap. And S&P, a division of publisher McGraw-Hill (MHP, Fortune 500), has begun its own internal probe. Thursday's blunder came as France's credit rating was already under a microscope…