April 5 - Standard & Poor's investment-grade composite spread widened by 11 basis points (bps) to 205 bps yesterday, and the speculative-grade composite spread widened by 4 bps to 622 bps. By rating, the 'AA' spread widened by 11 bps to 136 bps, and 'A' and 'BBB' widened by 12 bps each to 178 bps and 253 bps, respectively. The 'BB' spread widened by 4 bps to 444 bps, 'B' widened by 5 bps to 672 bps, and 'CCC' widened by 6 bps to 1,033 bps. By industry, financial institutions and telecommunications expanded by 10 bps each to 310 bps and 328 bps, respectively. Banks, industrials, and utilities expanded 11 bps each to 314 bps, 299 bps, and 210 bps, respectively. The investment-grade and speculative-grade spreads are both down from their highs reached in October. The investment-grade spread is above its one-year moving average of 198 bps and below its five-year moving average of 239 bps. The speculative-grade composite spread is below both its one-year moving average of 639 bps and its five-year moving average of 721 bps. We expect continued volatility in the near term, especially in the speculative-grade segment, which could result from both positive and negative factors. On the positive side, we expect U.S. corporate defaults to remain below the long-term average in the short term. On the negative side, an increase in volatility in the financial markets, influenced by weakening economic conditions, could continue to weigh on risky assets. Standard & Poor's, a part of The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE:MHP), is the world's foremost provider of credit ratings. With offices in 23 countries, Standard & Poor's is an important part of the world's financial infrastructure and has played a leading role for 150 years in providing investors with information and independent benchmarks for their investment and financial decisions.