Standard & Poor's Corp. said that in the second quarter it upgraded 95 issues totaling $5.1 billion and downgraded 43 issues totaling $6.5 billion.
One downgrade accounted for almost half of the dollar volume of downgrades. In May, the rating agency dropped to junk Status $3.1 billion of bonds issued to finance the Denver International Airport.
The 138 rating actions far exceed the 65 ratings changed in the first quarter by Standard & Poor's. In the first quarter, the agency upgraded 46 issues totaling $5.1 billion and downgraded 19 issues totaling just $608 million.
The rating actions for the second quarter are based on preliminary data through June 15, the rating agency said.
Most of the action was concentrated in three sectors: housing, utilities, and general obligation bonds.
In the housing sector, Standard & Poor's upgraded 35 issues totaling $388 million of debt and downgraded eight issues totaling $45 million. That continues the trend set in the first quarter when Standard & Poor's upgraded 26 issues totaling $3.6 billion and downgraded nine issues totaling $69 million.
In the utility sector, the rating agency said it upgraded 29 issues totaling $3.2 billion and downgraded 14 issues totaling $2.8 billion. An upgrade of the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corp. accounted for most of the upgrade volume, Standard & Poor's said.
With GO debt, the agency lifted ratings on 25 issues totaling $558 million and lowered ratings on nine issues totaling $339 million.
Only in the health care and education sectors were the. re more downgrades than upgrades. In the education area, the agency said it upgraded two issues totaling $23 million and downgraded three issues totaling $16 million.
In the health care sector, Standard & Poor's upgraded a $43 million issue from the Philadelphia Hospital and Higher Education Authority and downgraded eight issues totaling $211 million. The agency's figures excluded $867 million of health care issues that were upgraded because they received credit support from the upgraded Industrial Indemnity Co.
The health care sector also suffered in the first quarter of this year, when Standard & Poor's upgraded two issues totaling $108 million and downgraded ratings on five issues totaling $217 million.