Moody's Investors Service has been hard at work keeping tabs on the ups and downs in structured finance - namely in the form of upgrades and downgrades.

In a report due out this week, analysts at the agency found the number of downgrades of asset-backed securities more than doubled in the fourth quarter of 2003, compared with the third quarter of the year. While upgrade activity increased during that period, it wasn't enough to offset the disturbing news. There were nearly 10 times more downgrades than upgrades during the fourth quarter.

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