S&P slashes PG&E credit rating to junk status

NEW YORK -- S&P slashed PG&E's credit rating to junk status as the utility grapples with the political and financial fallout from costly and deadly wildfires in California.

The ratings agency cut the company's key rate five notches to "B'' from "BBB-." Shares have been weighed down since November and took a sharp dive Monday on bankruptcy speculation.

RELATED: PG&E reportedly exploring selling gas assets to cover possible wildfire payouts if found guilty

The utility, California's largest, is contending with potentially crippling liability costs related to California's Camp Fire. No cause has been determined, but investigators are looking into the potential it was sparked by a malfunctioned line.

S&P says it could lower the rating "one or more notches over the next few months" if the company continues to face regulatory or financial turmoil.

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