Fitch Ratings has downgraded the issuer default ratings of six homebuilders -- Centex Corp., Hovnanian Enterprises Inc., Lennar Corp., Meritage Homes Corp., M/I Homes Inc., and Standard Pacific Corp. -- and revised the rating outlook from stable to negative for Centex, Lennar, and Meritage.The rating outlook remains negative for the other three companies as well. The IDR downgrades were as follows: Centex, from BBB-plus to BBB; Hovnanian, from BB-plus to BB-minus; Lennar, from BBB-plus to BBB; Meritage, from BB to BB-minus; M/I Homes, from BB to BB-minus; and Standard Pacific, from BB to BB-minus. Fitch also downgraded other ratings for the six homebuilders. In addition, the rating agency revised from stable to negative the rating outlooks of four other homebuilders -- D.R. Horton Inc., KB Home, MDC Holdings Inc., and Ryland Group Inc. -- while affirming their IDRs. Fitch said the new ratings and outlooks reflect its expectations for the housing market as well as company-specific performance. The rating agency said it expects the housing contraction to be "more severe" than originally anticipated for the rest of 2007, due chiefly to "tighter mortgage standards and disrupted mortgage markets," and that 2008 is likely to be "another challenging year for this sector." Fitch can be found on the Web at http://www.fitchratings.com.

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