Moody's outlook for U.S. toll roads negative on economic worries

WASHINGTON Wed Feb 6, 2013 11:27am EST

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WASHINGTON Feb 6 (Reuters) - Despite expectations that the number of U.S. toll roads will grow this year and more drivers will take them, Moody's Investors Services is keeping its outlook for the sector negative for the fifth year in a row, the rating agency said on Wednesday.

"Negative credit pressures continue to outweigh positives," Moody's said in a special report. "These pressures include a continued weak pace of economic recovery and the potential fiscal tightening in the U.S. which could drive the economy back into recession in 2013 and negatively affect toll road traffic and revenue."

Moody's said "a prolonged period of persistent high unemployment, slow wage growth and declines in discretionary income" could make drivers and taxpayers resistant to any toll increases, while rising gasoline prices could limit growth in toll-road traffic.

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