CHICAGO — The wave of consolidation sweeping through the non-profit health care sector sparked a surprising trend of upgrades over downgrades during the third quarter, a trend that could continue throughout the year, Moody's Investors Service said in a report out Wednesday.

Moody's upgraded 12 providers and downgraded seven during the third quarter. Half of the upgrades during the period, and 27% for the year so far, are due to mergers. Excluding those upgrades, there would have been an equal number of six upgrades and six downgrades, Moody's said.

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