Issuers are almost four times more likely to default on corporate bonds in the highest speculative-grade rating category than in the lowest investment-grade category, according to a study released yesterday by Standard & Poor's Corp.

The study found that the 10-year cumulative default rate for BBB-rated bonds, the agency's lowest investment-grade category, was 5.1% compared with 18.8% for BB-rated issues, the highest non-investment-grade category.

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