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Fitch clips ratings on 9 home builders

Fitch Ratings clipped the credit ratings of nine home builders Friday, warning that the housing crisis is expected to worsen in 2009 and deepen the damage to their businesses.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Fitch Ratings clipped the credit ratings of nine home builders Friday, warning that the housing crisis is expected to worsen in 2009 and deepen the damage to their businesses.

The ratings agency lowered its ratings on Centex Corp., D.R. Horton Inc., KB Home, Lennar Corp., M/I Homes Inc., Pulte Homes Inc., Ryland Group Inc. The outlook for all of those companies remains negative.

Also downgraded were M.D.C. Holdings Inc. and Toll Brothers Inc., whose outlooks are stable.

Fitch Ratings said the downgrades were caused by the firm's expectations that "housing activity will be even more challenging than previously anticipated throughout calendar 2009." Home builders are hurting because a wave of foreclosures has depressed home prices, while the credit crunch and U.S. recession have stunted home sales and halted new construction projects.

The ratings firm affirmed its ratings for Beazer Homes USA Inc., Hovnanian Enterprises Inc., Meritage Homes Corp. and Standard Pacific Corp.