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Fitch boosts Marsh & McLennan ratings

NEW YORK (AP) -- Fitch Ratings on Monday raised its issuer default rating and senior unsecured debt rating for Marsh & McLennan Cos. to "BBB+" from "BBB," lifting it higher into investment grade.

Fitch said the upgrades reflect the consulting and professional services firm's continued trend of improved operating performance and stronger credit profile that began in the second half of 2010.

Marsh & McLennan also appears positioned to maintain or improve its performance relatively soon as a result of a modestly improving commercial pricing environment and gradually improving economic conditions, according to Fitch.

The credit rating service also noted that the restructuring charges and regulatory and litigation problems that pulled down the company's results in past years have subsided.

In November, the New York company reported an 85 percent increase in its third-quarter net income, aided by higher revenue and a sharp drop in expenses from a year earlier. Marsh & McLennan is scheduled to report its results for the fourth quarter and full year next week.

The outlook is "Stable."

Marsh & McLennan shares rose 5 cents to $35.93 in afternoon trading.