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CHICAGO—Fitch Ratings Ltd. on Tuesday removed its negative watch but maintained a negative outlook on Old Republic International Corp.'s debt.
Although Fitch cited concerns about Chicago-based Old Republic's mortgage insurance business for its actions, it said the insurer's underlying property/casualty business “continues to perform well.” The Chicago-based rating agency noted that Old Republic's property/casualty operations reported an improved combined ratio of 97.9% for the first six months of the year, compared to 102.2% during the same period of 2010.
Fitch's move came a week after A.M. Best Co. Inc. downgraded most of Old Republic's international corporation subsidiaries. For example, Best moved Old Republic Insurance and its Rock Island, Ill.-based unit Bituminous Insurance Cos. and their respective property/casualty members' financial strength ratings to A from A+, and their debt ratings to A+ from AA-, while revising the outlook on those ratings to stable from negative. The Oldwick, N.J.-based rating agency noted factors such as Old Republic's second quarter results, increased financial leverage in 2011, and expectations of further substantial losses in the mortgage guaranty business.
KANSAS CITY, Mo.—Standard & Poor's Corp.'s recent downgrade of U.S. sovereign debt will have no impact on insurer investment, National Assn. of Insurance Commissioners President Susan E. Voss said Sunday.