CHICAGO - A weak economy, slow housing market, and too much variable-rate debt took their toll on continuing-care retirement communities over the last year and are expected to continue to trouble the sector throughout next year, Fitch Ratings said in a report released yesterday.

Fitch maintains a negative outlook on the senior-living sector and notes that all its median profitability ratios - from days' cash on hand and liquidity to maximum annual debt service - declined significantly in 2008.

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