EUROPE - Credit quality continued to decline in Q2 as 41 debt issuers were downgraded, according to Moody's Investor Services.
Ruth Stroppiana, chief international economist, Moody's Economy.com and co-author of the report, said: "The rate of decline in credit quality has accelerated since the first quarter due to a surge in the number of downgrades and a fall in upgrades.
"Since the credit crunch began, credit fundamentals have deteriorated and the rating gap has remained negative since the third quarter of 2007."
The company noted that in Q1 the total rating gap was -18, but it was less severe than in 2002 when the ratings gap averaged a low of -40.
It said the outlook for the next 12-18 months could see some stabilisation, particularly in the non-financial sector.
The company also said speculative-grade issuers were performing better than investment-grade, with the number of non-financial sector speculative-grade issuer upgrades increasing.
Christine Li, economist, Moody's and co-author of the report, added: "Credit conditions are worsening, with slowing activity, weakening earnings and tighter monetary policy likely to raise the risks of corporate defaults.
"The downturn in the current credit cycle is unlikely to be over yet. Indeed, the deterioration in credit quality may well reach similar levels witnessed in 2002. With the global growth weakening, risks remain on the downside."
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) and Labour MP Stephen Kinnock and will listen to the experiences of steelworkers when transferring their pensions away from the British Steel Pension Scheme (BSPS) next week in Port Talbot.
Just Group has acquired a 75% stake in the holding company of Corinthian Pension Consulting in a bid to strengthen its professional defined benefit (DB) advisory services.
The Pensions Regulator (TPR) has exercised its production order power under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 for the very first time as part of a fraud investigation.
The ITN Limited Pension Scheme has named Trafalgar House as its administrator for an initial term of five years.