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S&P ups Philly's bond rating

The city's "A+" rating is its highest ever from the agency.

STANDARD & POOR'S Rating Services upgraded its credit rating for Philadelphia's general obligation bonds to A+, the city's highest rating ever from that agency, Mayor Nutter's administration announced yesterday.

S&P has been steadily increasing the city's rating since mid-2012, when Philly's bonds were BBB. The highest possible grade is AAA+.

It's great news for city taxpayers because stronger credit ratings mean lower borrowing costs. But Philly, with its poorer population and history of fiscal mismanagement, still lags behind other large U.S. cities.

Of the "big three" credit ratings, S&P's evaluation of Philadelphia's bonds is the highest. Moody's Investors Service gives the city an "A2," which is one level below the comparable S&P rating, and Fitch Ratings has Philly two steps down at A-.

S&P defines an "A" rating as: "Strong capacity to meet financial commitments, but somewhat susceptible to adverse economic conditions and changes in circumstances."