- Associated Press - Thursday, September 29, 2016

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) - Another major credit rating agency has dropped West Virginia’s bond rating.

Fitch Ratings announced the downgrade Wednesday from AA+ to AA, calling the outlook negative amid uncertainty in the state’s economy.

Fitch says economic and financial challenges are largely due to significant domestic and international momentum to reduce coal usage. Fitch also cited current low natural gas prices and lack of transmission capacity.

Fitch expects challenges to continue for several years, applying financial stress until the coal decline bottoms out and is replaced by expansion in the state’s other natural resources, or some other positive development.

Fitch called West Virginia’s demographic profile weak, mentioning its steadily declining population.

Fitch praised the state’s reserves and low debt.

Standard & Poor’s dropped West Virginia’s bond rating in April from AA to AA-minus.

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