Morningstar Credit Ratings has been approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to expand its grading capabilities beyond asset-backed securities into corporate debt and financial institutions.

The designations allow Morningstar to enter into areas that may also include assignments on private placements and unsecured debt from real estate investment trusts, Chief Operating Officer Joe Petro said in a phone interview Monday. The unit entered the bond-grading business in 2010 after its parent Morningstar Inc. acquired Realpoint LLC, and has primarily rated securitized debt such as bonds backed by commercial mortgages and home loans.

"Our goal is to be a full-service rating agency," Petro said.

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