G-7 countries seek to reassure markets

Finance officials from major industrial countries, seeking to calm nervous global markets, pledged Sunday to increase cooperation on attacking economic problems.

The officials from the Group of Seven industrial countries issued a joint statement late Sunday saying they were prepared to take all necessary measures to support financial stability and growth. "We are committed to addressing the tensions stemming from the current challenges on our fiscal deficits, debt and growth," the group said.

The G-7 statement came after the group held an emergency conference call to discuss the debt crisis in Europe and market prospects following the announcement of the first-ever downgrade of the credit rating of the U.S. government.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke participated in the G-7 call.

The G-7 statement did not specifically address the decision by credit rating agency Standard & Poor's to lower the U.S. credit rating a notch from AAA to AA+. But it did praise the agreement approved by Congress last week that raised the country's borrowing limit and pledged between $2.1 trillion and $2.4 trillion in deficit reduction over 10 years. The statement said the United States had "adopted reforms that will deliver substantial deficit reduction over the medium term."

That was in contrast to the S&P ratings decision, which criticized the U.S. debt agreement as not going far enough.

The G-7 statement also took note of developments regarding the debt crisis in Europe and said the focus should be on "quick and full implementation of the agreements" that have been reached to deal with debt burdens in countries facing problems.

On Sunday, the European Central Bank said it would "actively implement" a bond purchase program aimed at supporting Spanish and Italian bonds by driving down interest rates that have threatened both countries.

The G-7 statement also said the group would be alert for any indications of "excess volatility and disorderly movements" in exchange markets. "We will consult closely in regard to actions in exchange markets and will cooperate as appropriate," the G-7 said.

The G-7 countries are the United States, Japan, Germany, France, Britain, Italy and Canada.