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Moody's raises CenterPoint Energy's credit rating

NEW YORK (AP) -- Moody's Investors Service upgraded CenterPoint Energy Inc.'s credit rating by a notch, based largely on the improving economy in Texas.

The move announced Monday raises the senior unsecured rating on the electricity and gas distributor to "Baa2" from "Baa3." That category is assigned to debt considered to be a "moderate" risk. Moody's also raised the rating on a CenterPoint subsidiary in Houston.

The reassessment affects about $5.7 billion in debt.

The rating agency concluded that CenterPoint's business has stabilized and faces relatively low risks. CenterPoint, based in Houston, earned $47 million on revenue of $4.3 billion through the first half of this year compared with net income of $273 million on revenue of $3.6 billion at the same time last year.

The company provides electricity to about 2.2 million customers in the Houston area. It also delivers natural gas to 3.2 million customers in Texas and five other states: Arkansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi and Oklahoma.

Houston-based CenterPoint's stock shed 26 cents to $22.92 in Monday's afternoon trading.