November 21 - The United Kingdom Mutual Steam Ship Assurance Association (Bermuda), generally known as the UK P&I Club, has welcomed an improvement of its Standard and Poor's (S&P) rating from 'Stable' to 'Positive'.

The UK P&I Club said: "The positive outlook reflects our expectation that the UK Club's stronger and more stable underwriting performance of 2011 and 2012 will continue through 2013-15."

Dino Caroussis, chairman of the UK P&I Club, said: "This is a welcome endorsement by S&P of the UK Club's efforts to maintain balanced underwriting and a strong capital position in an environment of rising claims costs and volatile investments.

Hugo Wynn-Williams, ceo of Club managers Thomas Miller P&I, added: "Our return to the top level of the P&I market has been rewarded by increased support from new and existing members."

A statement said the UK Club's funds have continued to strengthen in the first half of 2012 with free reserves and capital increasing a further USD8 million to USD494 million at August 20, 2012.