The markets rallied on Friday, following a Fed-focused week, with all eyes on Wednesday’s FOMC meeting.
There were a few earnings releases this week, including results from Oracle (ORCL), Nike (NKE) and General Mills. On an economic basis, there was disappointing news in the February housing starts, weekly employment data and industrial production rates.
The real focus this week was on Wednesday’s FOMC meeting, as investors awaited to see if the Fed would remove the word “patient” from its policy statement. In the announcement, Janet Yellen retracted the word “patient”, but noted that this did not translate into the Fed being “impatient”.
- Newnan Water, Sewerage & Light Commission’s: Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded Newnan Water, Sewerage & Light Commission’s (GA) to A1 from A2. The upgrade to A1 from A2 reflects the commission’s strong willingness to raise rates to maintain ample financial margins and liquidity position. The rating also incorporates a stable, albeit somewhat concentrated, primarily residential customer base with average socioeconomic indicators. The rating also considers a low debt position that mitigates pressure by large off balance sheet leverage given its take-or-pay contract with the Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia (MEAG, A1 stable).
- Utah School Bond Guaranty Program: Moody’s has upgraded the rating on Utah School Bond Guaranty Program to A1 from A2. The A1 rating and upgrade reflect financial operations that have improved substantially since 2009 and appear stable with ample liquidity, as well as a moderately-sized tax base that continues to show signs of growth. The rating also incorporates the district’s below average wealth measures and above average but manageable debt and pension liabilities.
- Cattaraugus Co., NY: Moody’s has upgraded the rating on Cattaraugus Co., NY to to Aa3 from A1. The upgrade to Aa3 reflects the county’s improved finances, moderately-sized and stable tax base, and manageable debt burden.
- Lewisville (TX) Water & Sewer: Moody’s has upgraded the City of Lewisville (TX) Water and Sewer Enterprise revenue bonds to Aa1 from Aa2. The Aa1 rating reflects the system’s strong financial performance as demonstrated by liquidity and healthy debt service coverage. The rating also takes into account the system’s low debt burden and moderate size with capacity to meet future customer growth.
- Russell County’s, KY: Moody’s has upgraded Russell County’s, KY general obligation rating to A1 from A2. The upgrade to A1 reflects the strong financial performance driven by tax rate adjustments and conservative budgeting that have resulted in healthy and above average reserves. The rating also incorporates the county’s moderately sized tax base, modest debt burden, recent loss of Fruit of the Loom, a major employer, and weak socioeconomic profile.
- Hattiesburg Public School District: Moody’s has downgraded to A3 from A1 the rating on Hattiesburg Public School District, MS’s general obligation bonds. The downgrade and assignment of a negative outlook primarily reflects the district’s weak liquidity and reserves resulting from imbalanced operations, which are expected to continue through fiscal year 2016. Furthermore, revenue raising flexibility is constrained because the district has reached its 55 mill operational tax rate limitation. Other factors incorporated in the current rating include the institutional presence of Camp Shelby and the University of Southern Mississippi, a high pension liability and moderate debt burden with rapid payout.
- Brown County Water Improvement District No. 1: Moody’s has downgraded the underlying rating to the Brown County Water Improvement District No. 1 (TX) rating to A3 from A2. The downgrade to A3 reflects the overall credit quality of the District’s contracting customers. The rating further reflects the District’s position as a regional supplier of water, satisfactory debt service coverage, favorable liquidity position, and an expanding customer base.
- Gainesville Hospital’s : Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded Gainesville Hospital’s (TX) (d.b.a North Texas Medical Center) rating to A3 from A2. The downgrade to A3 reflects the district’s narrowing financial position that continues to be challenged by revenue and admission declines as well as weak liquidity. The rating also takes into account the district’s growing sizeable tax base and rate raising flexibility.