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Moody's: REITs strong enough to weather recession

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U.S. real estate investment trusts are stable enough to weather any new volatility in capital markets or even a renewed recession, according an outlook released by Moody's Investors Service. REITs receive special tax benefits to invest directly in different real estate markets such as shopping malls, offices and residences. The only financial firm to issue a privately funded mortgage-backed security since the crisis is Redwood Trust (RWT), a REIT based in California. Another, Two Harbors (TWO) is planning one before May. "The REITs continue to successfully navigate through difficult capital market conditions, and they have fewer demands on their liquidity than they did during the recent recession, given that their debt maturities are staggered, development pipelines at low levels, and their bank facilities have significant capacity," says Philip Kibel, a Moody's Senior Vice President. In November and December alone, several investment-grade REITs were able to tap the unsecured debt market and issued roughly $3.8 billion in bonds. However, Moody's expects less issuance in 2012 than the $16.2 billion in bonds brought to market last year. Write to Jon Prior. Follow him on Twitter @JonAPrior.

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