Moody's Investors Service yesterday confirmed the state of Massachusetts' single-A general obligation bond rating.

The confirmation covers $8.7 billion of general obligation and some state agency debt.

The move by Moody's comes after both Standard & Poor's Corp. and Fitch Investors Service Inc. upgraded the state to A-plus from single-A on Wednesday.

"We recognize that the state is making progress and has implemented better fiscal responsibility," said Steven Hochman, vice president and assistant director of state ratings at Moody's. "However, we are waiting for further evidence of progress before moving the state higher."

All three of the ratings agencies cited the state's reduced reliance on short-term borrowing to plug budget gaps as a positive sign for the state's overall fiscal picture.

However, Hochman said that Moody's is waiting to see the final revenue numbers for fiscal 1993, which ended June 30, and the initial preliminary reports for the first quarter of fiscal 1994. The final numbers for fiscal 1993 have not been submitted yet.

"While we can see that the state has restored some revenue controls, the state's yearend cash position had actually experienced a small decline at the close of fiscal 1993," Hochman said.

Massachusetts Treasurer Joseph D. Malone had no comment on the confirmation from Moody's.

The ratings actions come as the state is readying for its first competitive general obligation sale since the fall of 1989.

The state is planning to sell $200 million of GOs on Oct. 19. The deal is expected to be structured with serial bonds maturing 1994 through 2013.

In the mid-1980s the Massachusetts economy was one of the strongest economies in the nation. But starting in 1988, the Massachusetts economy slumped into its worst economic slowdown since the 1930s.

Before September 1992, Massachusetts was the lowest-rated state credit in the nation. It was rated BBB by Standard & Poor's, Baa by Moody's, and A by Fitch.

"It looks as though some of the job losses the state has experienced over the last three years have slowed," Hochman said. "But the new numbers do not yet provide a real picture about where job growth may occur."

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