In the news
U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson is expected to rule on the U.S. Department of Justice's lawsuit to block Anthem Inc.'s planned acquisition of Cigna Corp. as the first phase of the antitrust trial draws to a close, Bloomberg News reported.
The judge did not disclose when she would issue her decision on whether the merger would increase costs for large employers and should be blocked. A decision in favor of the government on the first phase would end the deal and the trial would not go into the second phase.
The Life Partners Holdings Inc. joint reorganization plan to bring the company out of bankruptcy became effective Dec. 9. Within two weeks, investors will receive more than $100 million in distributions collected from matured policies during the Chapter 11 proceedings, said M. Thomas Moran II, the bankruptcy trustee.
Following Prudential Financial Inc.'s suspension of the distribution of MyTerm policies through Wells Fargo & Co., the latter said it has discontinued referrals of renters' insurance to another insurer, according to separate reports from Reuters and The New York Times, citing Wells Fargo spokesman Mark Folk. The spokesman did not specify the carrier, but Reuters said Wells Fargo offers the product through a partnership with Assurant Inc.
As Republicans plan on dismantling President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell called for further improving the healthcare law instead of repealing it. The department released a report highlighting the benefits of the healthcare law. Millions of Americans gained coverage through employer-sponsored health plans, Medicaid and the individual health insurance marketplace after the implementation of the ACA. The healthcare law has also put an end to annual and lifetime benefits, ensured that young adults are covered until age 26, slowed premium growth and offered more care services to consumers, according to the report.
A.M. Best retained its negative outlook on the commercial lines segment of the U.S. P&C industry for 2017 on expectations that commercial lines insurers would see their financial results deteriorate throughout the year due to market pressure. The commercial lines segment is expected to continue to feel the impact of heightened price competition in most lines, declining levels of favorable development of prior years' loss reserves and persistently low investment yields. A return to a more historically normal level of catastrophe losses would also have an effect on commercial lines insurers.
Class A shares of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. briefly surpassed $250,000 in Dec. 13 morning trade as it hit $250,419.50, CNBC reported. The publication noted that the development is a milestone for Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, who bought his first shares at $7.50, or $60.03 if adjusted to 2016 dollars.
In executive moves, Priority Health named James Forshee senior vice president of medical affairs and chief medical officer.
RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd. appointed Sean Brosnan senior vice president and chief investment officer and Aditya Dutt treasurer.
Just as the U.S. life insurance industry's second-quarter statutory operating results were not as bad as they appeared at first glance, its third-quarter financials are not necessarily as historically strong as they might otherwise seem. Some life insurers showed improvement in pretax operating income of $1 billion or more during the third quarter from operating losses in the year-ago period, but there are those that recorded pretax operating loss.
Aflac Inc. plans to convert its Japanese branch into a subsidiary by the end of 2018.
Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler imposed fines totaling $63,550 against insurers, including Group Health Options Inc., PREMERA's LifeWise Assurance Co. and Premera Blue Cross, AGCS Marine Insurance Co. and McGriff Seibels & Williams, for violating state insurance regulations.
Financial news in other parts of the world
Asia-Pacific: China Minsheng eyes Novo Banco; Allianz closing Australia aviation insurance biz
Middle East & Africa: Zimbabwe cuts withdrawal charges; Japanese bank to open Saudi branch
Europe: Italian banking sector outlook revised; Old Mutual unit prices share sale
Latin America: Brazil Senate OKs spending cap; Banco Interfinanzas sale approved
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a mixed opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng was up 0.04% to 22,456.62. The Nikkei 225 rose 0.02% to 19,253.61.
In Europe as of midday, the FTSE 100 dropped 0.13% to 6,959.43, and the Euronext 100 fell 0.55% to 916.61.
On the macro front
The producer price index for final demand, the retail sales report, the industrial production report, the business inventories report, the EIA petroleum status report, the FOMC meeting announcement and the FOMC forecasts are due out today. The Fed chair press conference will also be held today.