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S&P downgrades Exxon, citing commodity prices, dividend

Standard& Poor's Ratings Services on April 25 lowered 's corporate creditand long-term debt ratings to AA+ from AAA, citing low commodity prices, highreinvestment requirements and large dividend payments. The outlook is stable.

S&PRatings said Exxon's debt level has more than doubled in recent years,reflecting the company's high capital spending in the previoushigh-commodity-price environment, as well as dividends and share repurchases thatsubstantially exceeded internally generated cash flow.

"[W]ebelieve the company may return cash to shareholders rather than building cashor reducing debt, limiting improvement in our projected credit measures whencommodity prices improve," the S&P report said.

S&P Ratings and S&PGlobal Market Intelligence are owned by McGraw Hill Financial Inc.