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Port Authority Credit Outlook Now Negative by Moody’s

Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the World Trade Center site and operates the three major New York-area airports, had its credit outlook cut to negative from stable by Moody’s Investors Service.

The revision comes a day before the authority plans to take interest-rate bids from underwriters on $300 million in tax-exempt debt. Moody’s rates the offering Aa2, its third-highest and one level above Fitch Ratings, which assigned a stable outlook.

“The negative rating outlook reflects exposure to a prolonged economic recovery in the service area that could depress forecasted revenue growth,” Maria Matesanz and Kurt Krummenacker, Moody’s analysts, wrote in a report.

The 89-year-old Port Authority’s facilities include two tunnels and four bridges between New York and New Jersey, six marine terminals, a ferry service and five airports, including Newark Liberty International, John F. Kennedy International and LaGuardia. It has $13.8 billion of debt outstanding rated by Moody’s.

“Our credit ratings and our financial health remain strong,” Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the authority, said in an e-mail. “We will continue to manage our operating budget and capital plan with fiscal discipline as we navigate through these difficult economic times.”

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