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Warren questions decision to end ACA ads; Cigna weighing Anthem deal options

In the news

U.S. Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., are requesting the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General to investigate the HHS' decision to discontinue advertisements and suspend e-mail and social media outreach in the final days of the Affordable Care Act's 2017 open enrollment season. In a letter to the HHS' inspector general, Daniel Levinson, the senators noted that historically, the final enrollment week has attracted large numbers of young and healthy individuals to the health exchanges and ending outreach efforts five days before the Jan. 31 deadline threatened to increase insurance prices for those who sign up for coverage on the exchanges in 2018 and beyond.

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Elsewhere, Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee blocked a vote Jan. 31 on President Donald Trump's nominees to lead the Treasury and HHS. None of the 12 Democratic members of the committee reported to the executive session scheduled for 10 a.m., where Tom Price and Steven Mnuchin were to be voted on for positions as HHS secretary and Treasury secretary, respectively.

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Anthem Inc. reported fourth-quarter 2016 net income of $368.4 million, or $1.37 per share, up from $180.9 million, or 68 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Meanwhile, Cigna Corp. said it still plans to evaluate its options in connection with its pending merger with Anthem once the court releases its decision on the U.S. Department of Justice's antitrust lawsuit. Regarding the notice that Anthem has elected to extend the termination date of the deal, Cigna said it has made no determination, including whether to push for the termination of the transaction or not.

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Colorado's health insurance exchange, Connect For Health Colorado, has extended the deadline to enroll in 2017 health insurance plans to 6 p.m. on Feb. 3 for those who began the enrollment process by Jan. 31, according to the marketplace's website.

Over in California, the deadline to sign up for coverage through the state's healthcare marketplace, Covered California, has been extended to Feb. 4, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

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A commercial lines expansion is one of the inorganic growth areas identified by the stock successor to Nodak Mutual Insurance Co., an insurer that has historically derived a significant portion of its revenues and earnings from multiperil crop insurance.

H.W. Kaufman Financial Group Inc., through subsidiary Burns & Wilcox Canada, has acquired XN Canada Private Client Services, which is the high-value homeowners insurance practice of XN Financial Services Inc. and a subsidiary of French insurer The Henner Group.

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Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton signed a bill to provide an automatic 25% reduction in health insurance premiums for the individual market.

Additionally, the state's Department of Commerce announced that Medica is again accepting new individual health insurance enrollments for 2017, effective Jan. 31.

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W. R. Berkley Corp. shareholders could see a "double positive" from a reformed U.S. corporate tax code. A lower corporate tax rate would directly benefit the insurer, while a possible reform of the way the tax code treats offshore insurance companies could hamstring its competitors based in tax havens such as Bermuda and Ireland, company executives said on an earnings call.

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Third Point Reinsurance Ltd. reported a profit of 2.6% on its investment portfolio in January, while Greenlight Capital Re Ltd. was down 0.5% in the month.

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Click here to read a summary of earnings reported Jan. 31 by select insurance companies covered by S&P Global Market Intelligence.

Featured news

Pharma giants get face time with Trump; Roche denies plan to sell diabetes biz: CEOs of Pfizer and Takeda brushed off President Donald Trump's call to cut drug prices, saying they have always been pricing responsibly; and Roche denied reports that it is considering selling its diabetes care unit.

Financial news in other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: German online lender enters NZ market; Japan raises growth outlook

Europe: BBVA, Julius Bär post FY'16 results; ECB happy with UniCredit plan

Middle East & Africa: 3 UAE banks post Q4 results; Njoroge warns of 'Trump effect' on Kenya

Latin America: XP Investimentos plans $1B IPO; BNDES lending hits 9-year low

The day ahead

Allstate Corp., Ameriprise Financial Inc., MetLife Inc., Allied World Assurance Co. Holdings AG, American Financial Group Inc., AXIS Capital Holdings Ltd., Blue Capital Reinsurance Holdings Ltd., Fidelity National Financial Inc., Lincoln National Corp., Torchmark Corp., Unum Group and XL Group Ltd are expected to report earnings today.

Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.

In Asia, the Hang Seng fell 0.18% to 23,318.39, and the Nikkei 225 was up 0.56% to 19,148.08.

In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.64% to 7,144.27, and the Euronext 100 had climbed 1.08% to 926.64.

On the macro front

The Bank Reserve Settlement report, the motor vehicle sales report, the MBA mortgage applications report, the ADP employment report, the Gallup U.S. job creation index, the Treasury refunding announcement, the PMI manufacturing index report, the construction spending report, the EIA petroleum status report and the FOMC meeting announcement are due out today.