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Governors urge continuance of insurance payments; 3 insurers reveal '18 rates

In the news

Following threats that President Donald Trump may withhold critical cost-sharing reduction subsidies, insurers, states and Congress are weighing contingency plans to offset major losses that could ensue if the administration follows through.

Democratic and Republican U.S. governors are urging the government to keep paying subsidies for the remainder of calendar year 2017 through 2018, according to Reuters.

News continues to trickle in about insurers filing for rate changes for 2018 plans.

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of South Carolina, currently the only company to sell Affordable Care Act plans in the state, proposed to hike premiums by more than 33% if Congress cuts the subsidy, The Post and Courier reported. On the other hand, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, calling the state individual market "less volatile", lowered its premium hike request to 14.1% for next year from the previously requested 22.9%. Centene Corp.'s Ambetter from Health Net is looking for a 5% rate increase in 2018 for its ACA plans in the Maricopa and Pima counties of Arizona.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services projects 19 counties in the U.S. will have no insurers offering ACA plans in 2018.

Turning to earnings, Aetna Inc. reported higher second-quarter GAAP and adjusted net income, and Willis Towers Watson Plc's second-quarter adjusted revenues increased 1% on an organic basis.

Alleghany Corp., Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc., Infinity Property & Casualty Corp., Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd., FBL Financial Group Inc., Kinsale Capital Group Inc. and Navigators Group Inc. are also expected to report quarterly results today.

To read a summary of earnings reported Aug. 2 by select insurance companies covered by S&P Global Market Intelligence, click here.

And in legal actions, a U.S. District judge dismissed a suit against Express Scripts Holding Co. where its shareholders alleged it increased its stock price by concealing a troubled relationship with its largest customer Anthem Inc.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit put the legal case over MetLife Inc.'s designation as a systemically important financial institution in abeyance until further court order.

Alliant Insurance Services Inc., which was sued by Wells Fargo Insurance Services USA Inc. for allegedly poaching its top sales executives, called Wells Fargo's allegations "patently false."

A Maryland judge signed an order placing Evergreen Health Inc. into receivership.

Safety Insurance Group Inc.'s board declared an increased quarterly dividend of 80 cents per share, a 10-cent increase from the previous payout.

Financial news in other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: Suncorp full-year net profit up 3.6%; Chinese P2P lender raises funds from GIC

Europe: Crédit Agricole, UniCredit Q2 profits up YOY; AXA, Aviva H1 profits also rise

Middle East & Africa: Iraq's landmark bond draws strong demand; Nedbank, KBC H1 profits fall YOY

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng decreased 0.28% to 27,531.01, and the Nikkei 225 declined 0.25% to 20,029.26.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.19% to 7,425.78, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.18% to 998.75.

On the macro front

The chain store sales report, the Challenger job-cut report, the Gallup good jobs rate report, the Bloomberg Consumer Comfort index, the ISM non-Mfg index, the factory orders report, the PMI services index, the EIA natural gas report, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply report are due out today.