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S&P lowers Kohl's outlook to negative

NEW YORK (AP) -- Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on Wednesday lowered Kohl's outlook to negative from stable, saying that weak sales may continue into next year.

Last month the department store operator reported that revenue at stores open at least a year fell 5.6 percent in November. Analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters expected a 1.9 percent rise in the figure.

Revenue at stores open at least a year is a key gauge of a retailer's health, because it excludes results from stores recently opened or closed.

S&P credit analyst Ana Lai said in a statement that the ratings agency believes that the weak sales could continue into 2013 due to merchandising issues and tough competition, and that it may result in a further deterioration of Kohl's credit measures.

S&P maintained all of its ratings for Kohl's Corp., including its "BBB+" investment grade corporate credit rating.

Shares of Kohl's, based in Menomonee Falls, Wis., rose 42 cents to $43.92 in afternoon trading amid a broader market advance.