Standard & Poor's last week placed the BBB-plus rating of bond insurer Radian Asset Assurance Inc. on negative CreditWatch, a move linked to the action it took on the ratings of parent Radian Group Inc. and its subsidiaries as well as four other mortgage insurers.

The negative watch status for the industry players reflects the worsening economic conditions that have emerged since August, when Standard & Poor's last reviewed the U.S. mortgage insurance sector. It has increased its projections for the peak unemployment rate during the current recession to 7.9% from 6.6%, and revised upwards its expectations for peak-to-trough declines in homes prices.

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