Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services says it is maintaining its negative outlook on the U.S. life insurance sector.

S&P, New York, has had a negative outlook on the sector since October 2008.

Since then, there have been many downgrades, and there likely will be more downgrades than upgrades over the next 6 months to a year, S&P says in a summary of the article.

“Downgrades generally will be limited to one or two notches,” S&P says. “The life insurance business remains among the safest of all financial enterprises–profitable, predictable, and relatively stable.”

But “this recession, which will likely be the worst economic downturn since the 1930s, has dampened life insurers’ investment portfolios and earnings,” S&P says. “At the same time, their access to the credit markets is limited, reducing their financial flexibility and pressuring holding-company liquidity.”