Moody's awards GM
 investment grade status


DETROIT — A key ratings agency has restored General Motors Co.’s debt to investment grade status. Eight years ago the company lost the rating as it spiraled to bankruptcy protection.

The upgrade came Monday, shortly after GM announced it would buy back 120 million preferred shares from a United Auto Workers retiree health-care trust for $3.2 billion, or $27 a share. GM will finance the buyback through the sale of senior unsecured notes.

Moody’s Investors Service raised GM’s corporate debt from Ba1, which is junk status, to Baa3, the lowest investment grade rating. Moody’s said it based the upgrade on expectations that GM will gain sales with new products in a healthy U.S. market and because of its solid position in China.

Two ratings agencies, Fitch and Standard & Poors, still have GM at junk status.

GM shares rose 30 cents after the news to $37.13. The stock is up 28 percent so far this year.