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S&P raises outlook for Harley-Davidson ratings

NEW YORK (AP) -- Standard & Poor's Ratings Services on Tuesday raised its outlook for Harley-Davidson Inc. "BBB+" investment-grade rating to "positive" from "stable," citing efficiency improvements at the motorcycle maker.

The ratings service also assigned a "BBB+" rating to Harley-Davidson Financial Services Inc.'s proposed medium-term notes due 2015. The Milwaukee-based company plans to use the proceeds for general corporate purposes.

S&P also affirmed its existing ratings for Harley, including its "BBB+" long-term corporate credit and "A-2" short-term rating. It said that manufacturing efficiencies should continue to boost the company's credit profile, adding that tougher loan standards have improved loan quality at its financial services business.

Harley shares fell $1.08, or 2.3 percent, to $45.26 in afternoon trading.