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Berkshire earnings up; Fairfax eyes organic growth; ReAssure in £425M deal

Berkshire Hathaway Inc. posted second-quarter net earnings attributable to shareholders of $14.07 billion, or $8,608 per class A equivalent share, up from $12.01 billion, or $7,301 per class A equivalent share, in the year-ago period. Net earnings for the three-month period included a net gain in investments and derivatives of $7.93 billion, compared to $5.12 billion in the second quarter of 2018.

Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. President Paul Rivett said the company is not looking to add to itself via acquisition in any "significant" way. During a call to discuss second-quarter earnings, he said there is "tremendous" opportunity for the company to grow organically.

One of Hartford Financial Services Group Inc.'s top priorities now that it has closed its purchase of Navigators Group Inc. is to take advantage of what executives see as a brightening picture in the specialty space. Also, President Douglas Elliot said The Hartford's combined ratios in its small and middle-market commercial auto lines are "still not acceptable," though progress is being made as pricing is improving.

Prudential Insurance Co. of America, a subsidiary of Prudential Financial Inc., entered into a longevity reinsurance agreement with London-based life and pensions consolidator Phoenix Group Holdings PLC as of June 30. The agreement covers retirees in the U.K.

The Florida State Board of Administration allocated $400 million more to insurance-linked securities managers, including funds managed by RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd., during the second quarter, Artemis reported.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed legislation requiring large group insurers to cover all medically necessary mammograms for women aged 35 to 39, The Associated Press reported.

Swiss Re AG unit ReAssure Group PLC agreed to acquire the U.K. closed book business of Quilter PLC for a total consideration of about £425 million. The book consists of Old Mutual Wealth Life Assurance Ltd. and subsidiary Old Mutual Wealth Pensions Trustees Ltd., including about 300 employees.

Assured Guaranty (Europe) PLC has guaranteed principal and interest payments on £124 million of bonds issued by Freemens Common Village LLP. The bonds will finance a total of 1,164 new bedspaces for University of Leicester students, a multi-story car park and new teaching facilities.

DARAG Group Ltd. signed a portfolio transfer agreement with German insurer SOVAG. The legacy book consists of direct insurance and inwards reinsurance business. The insurance business includes a number of specialty lines such as liability, property, transport and motor, with clientele based in Germany, Spain, Malta, Belgium, the Netherlands and Austria. The legacy portfolio will be transferred to DARAG's German risk carrier, subject to regulatory approval from BaFin.

Munich Re named Steven Chang as CEO of Greater China, effective Aug. 1.

State Bank of India Chairman Rajnish Kumar said the bank prefers to postpone a planned IPO of SBI General Insurance Co. Ltd. by one more year, Moneycontrol reported. The proposed flotation is now expected to take place in the 2021 financial year.

Sydney-based insurance broker Coverforce Holdings Pty. Ltd. has initiated legal action against minority shareholders Pemba Capital Partners Pty. Ltd. in response to a takeover bid by AUB Group Ltd., Insurance Business Australia reported. Last week, it was announced that AUB Group has entered into a conditional agreement with Pemba Capital Partners to acquire its 49% interest in Coverforce.

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Life insurers tumble as Fed cuts interest rates, industry reports Q2 results: Life insurance stocks slumped the week ending Aug. 2 as the Federal Reserve's action on interest rates and second-quarter earnings results took center stage.

Novartis CEO talks RNA research; big pharma takes jab at drug pricing bill: Novartis AG CEO Vas Narasimhan is surveying RNA technologies as a possible new area of research for the Swiss pharmaceutical giant, a move that would expand the matrix of therapies and technologies at the core of his strategy.

In other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: Hong Kong, China stock connect update; India fines banks over fraud reporting

Europe: HSBC CEO resigns; ReAssure, Quilter reach £425M deal; UBI Q2 profit down 46.6%

Middle East & Africa: ADFG completes merger with Shuaa; S&P revises outlook on DR Congo

The day ahead

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

In Asia, Hang Seng dropped 2.85% to 26,151.32, while the Nikkei 225 shed 1.74% to 20,720.29.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 fell 2.18% to 7,245.47, and the Euronext 100 lost 2.19% to 1,028.29.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, setting out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

On the macro front

The US Services purchasing managers' index, the Institute for Supply Management non-manufacturing index and the TD Ameritrade investor movement index are due out today.

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