Standard & Poor's Ratings Services said rating changes in U.S. public finance were positive in the fourth quarter and in 2012 overall.

The report, "Fourth Quarter Rating Actions Moved U.S. Public Finance Into Positive Territory For 2012," notes that 40.67% of U.S. public finance ratings were AA-minus or higher at the end of 2012, just slightly less than at the end of 2011, and there were no defaults of public finance issues that Standard & Poor's rates during the fourth quarter.

Not-for-profit health care and public utility ratings stayed positive in 2012 while housing improved significantly. Rating actions on state and local government issues were almost evenly split.

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