In the news
As Republicans work on their strategy on how to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act during a three-day policy retreat, health insurers like Independence Blue Cross and Molina Healthcare Inc. are recommending their preferred changes to the U.S. healthcare system, Reuters reported. Health insurers want the federal government to continue subsidizing health benefits and give states more authority over insurance. Republicans are planning to dismantle the healthcare law by March or April, and House committees will vote on draft repeal legislation in the next two weeks.
In Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker proposed to bring back healthcare options that were available under the commonwealth's healthcare law before the ACA was implemented, Politico reported. The proposal would require employers to contribute a minimum of $4,950 for the healthcare coverage of employees working 35 hours. The Wall Street Journal reported that businesses that do not cover enough of their employees' health insurance cost could face a $2,000 penalty per worker.
In another regulatory news, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners' Life Insurance Actuarial Task Force is looking into how accelerated underwriting programs improve the U.S. life insurance insurance sales process and predict people's death, LifeHealthPro reported. Accelerated underwriting programs give life insurers access to several consumer information databases, which allow underwriters to determine the insurance policies that a life applicant has.
Just a few days after a federal judge blocked its planned merger with Humana Inc., Aetna Inc. is facing a class-action lawsuit for allegedly making misleading statements concerning its exits from public health exchanges.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Texas Inc. is facing a lawsuit for allegedly underpaying Prime Healthcare Services' Dallas Regional Medical Center hospital by at least $20 million over nearly two years, Reuters reported. The insurer allegedly did not use customary rates when paying the hospital for its services.
In earnings news, Radian Group Inc. reported fourth-quarter 2016 net income of $61.1 million, or 27 cents per share, down from $74.5 million, or 32 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter.
Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. is also expected to release its earnings results today.
Total personal auto policies in force at Progressive Corp. expanded at their fastest annual rate in six years in 2016 as the steady growth in policy count in the agency channel complemented characteristically strong, albeit slightly lower, direct auto volumes, S&P Global Market Intelligence reported.
Directors and officers liability insurance rates may continue to decline in 2017, according to a Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. report. While President Donald Trump's administration's promised deregulation could stimulate growth, it could also lead to an increase in resulting claims on potential decrease in transparency and mandated corporate guidelines.
Capital BlueCross agreed to acquire a majority interest in Vibra Health Plan, a Harrisburg, Pa.-based health insurance plan focused solely on Medicare-eligible beneficiaries.
Everest Reinsurance Holdings Inc. has partnered with Glen Welch and Todd Welch, co-founders of Charter Partners, to form Salus Systems LLC, a partnership that focuses on reducing workplace injuries.
The average return of the insurance-linked securities fund market for full year 2016 was 5.18%, an increase from 4.24% in 2015, Artemis reported, citing Eurekahedge ILS Advisers Index, which tracks 34 ILS funds. The insurance-linked securities blog attributed the increase despite several loss events to the rising diversification and large fund sizes within ILS and collateralized reinsurance.
Celgene buys Delinia; J&J clears $30B Actelion bid; Endo launches restructuring: Johnson & Johnson is set to acquire Actelion Ltd. for $30 billion, or $280 per share. The U.S.-based pharmaceutical giant will launch an all-cash tender offer in Switzerland to acquire all of the outstanding shares of Actelion, with J&J funding the transaction with cash held outside the U.S.
Financial news in other parts of the world
Asia-Pacific: South Korea, Malaysia renew currency swap; Japanese, UK banks end partnership
Middle East & Africa: Fitch cuts Nigeria outlook; Mashreqbank FY'16 profit dips YOY
Europe: RBS adds £3.1B in provisions; Nordea's Q4 profit rises; Generali CFO leaves
Latin America: Banrisul could be privatized; Interacciones' Q4'16 profit rises 16.9%
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng rose 1.41% to 23,374.17, and the Nikkei 225 was up 1.81% to 19,402.39.
In Europe, as of midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.16% to 7,175.64, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.01% to 939.62.
On the macro front
The international trade in goods report, the jobless claims report, the Chicago Fed national activity index, the PMI services flash, the new home sales report, the leading indicators, the EIA natural gas report, the Kansas City Fed Manufacturing Index, the Fed balance sheet and the money supply report are due out today.