Standard Poor’s had more than two times more upgrades than downgrades in 2014.
The year was the first since 2007 in which both housing and non-housing public finance sectors saw more upgrades than downgrades in every quarter, SP reported this week.
Over the year there were 2.68 upgrades for every downgrade for non-housing bonds and 2.57 upgrades for every downgrade for housing bonds, according to Lawrence Witte, SP senior director.
The upgrade-to-downgrade ratio rose to 3.24 in the fourth quarter in the non-housing sector from 2.15 in the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter all non-housing public finance sectors except for the health care and education sectors had more upgrades than downgrades.
In the quarter the local and state sector, the municipal housing sector, and the utilities sector showed particular strength, with upgrade ratios of over two-to-one. The local and state sector has seen upgrade ratios above two for seven straight quarters while the utilities sector has had a three-quarter streak.
SP’s upgrades to the local governments reflected their improved finances and stronger economies.
Over 2014 in the housing sector SP upgraded 75 issues and downgraded 29 issues. “This resulted almost entirely from increases in the collateral backing housing bonds as opposed to a rating change on a third-party enhancement or investment,” Witte said in his report, “U.S. Public Finance Ratings Continued Their Positive 2014 Trend in the Fourth Quarter.”