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DEFINED BENEFIT

Fitch lowers investment return assumptions for public pension plan liabilities

Fitch Ratings will now discount U.S. public pension plan liabilities at a 6% investment return assumption, down from the current 7%, according to a news release from the ratings agency.

The ratings agency released the new updated U.S. public finance tax-supported rating criteria on Wednesday.

"U.S. growth has been slower and more incremental over the current economic expansion than over longer time horizons. There is little evidence to suggest the economy will accelerate to previous levels of growth in the near term. Fitch believes that pensions will be hard-pressed to achieve their long-term growth expectations in the current economic context," said Douglas Offerman, senior director at Fitch Ratings, in the news release.

Fitch said that while the new report updates and replaces tax-supported rating criteria dated April 18, 2016, the only changes relate to defined benefit liability analysis.

Elizabeth Fogerty, Fitch Ratings spokeswoman, could not be immediately reached to provide further information.