NEW YORK — Standard & Poor’s still believes in J.C. Penney Co.’s turnaround, but less-than-stellar prospects for this year led the ratings agency on Thursday to downgrade the retailer’s debt to “junk” status.

S&P lowered Penney’s corporate credit rating into the non-investment realm with a “BB-plus” rating and a negative outlook. Previously, the firm had been rated “BBB-minus.”

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