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Fitch rates state bonds 'AA'

JACKSON — Fitch Ratings has assigned “AA” ratings to the following State of Mississippi (the state) general obligation (GO) bonds: $340.375-million taxable GO bonds, series 2009D; $120-million taxable GO bonds, series 2009E; $64.145-million GO refunding bonds, series 2009F; and, $98.3-million GO Build America Bonds, series 2009G (Direct Payment – Federally Taxable).

Additionally, Fitch has affirmed the “AA” rating on the state’s approximately $3.4 billion of outstanding GO bonds. The Rating Outlook is “stable.”

Fitch wrote, in part: “The ‘AA’ rating and stable outlook are based on the state’s solid reserve levels, diversifying economy and historically conservative borrowing and financial practices tempered by low wealth and education levels.

“Mississippi experienced employment growth in the first half of 2008, though a reversal mid-year led to an annual decline of 0.5 percent, slightly worse than the national decline of 0.4 percent. The important casino industry is also experiencing employment contraction.

“First quarter 2009 data shows state growth exceeding regional and national levels. Per capita personal income in 2008 of $29,569 is just 74 percent of the U.S. level, ranking Mississippi 50th among the states.”

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