In the news
Certain Republican governors have expressed concerns about the potential implications of repealing the Affordable Care Act without having a replacement in place, The Wall Street Journal reported. Ohio Gov. John Kasich, Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval and Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley were among those who cautioned against the abrupt repeal of the ACA in response letters to Republican House leaders, who sought comments from state governors and insurance commissioners over possible health law changes.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rejected Kansas' request for a one-year extension of the state's privatized Medicaid program, KanCare. The CMS said, citing a review by federal investigators, that the state did not comply with federal regulations and its Medicaid State Plan. The investigators also noted the state's failure to ensure effective oversight of the program and were concerned about the program's transparency and effectiveness.
KanCare is scheduled to expire Dec. 31 and the state must file a corrective action plan to address the CMS' concerns by Feb. 17, The Kansas City Star reported.
Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. is in talks to sell a 25% stake in its India-based joint venture ICICI Lombard General Insurance Co. Ltd. for up to $1 billion, Reuters reported. Fairfax, which currently holds a 35% interest in the venture, may use part of the proceeds to fund its acquisition of Allied World Assurance Co. Holdings AG, according to the report.
Following Anthem Inc.'s announcement to extend the termination date of its merger agreement with Cigna Corp. to April 30, a report in The New York Post said that Judge Amy Berman Jackson is expected to block the planned transaction on antitrust concerns. Anthem can appeal the ruling if it is not favorable.
However, the Hartford Courant reported, citing a Cigna spokesman, that the company had no information about such a report. The Post reported that the federal judge could issue a ruling as soon as Jan. 19 but a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Justice told Hartford Courant that he did not have any information about a ruling issued Jan. 19.
Elsewhere, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Anthem, including Empire BlueCross BlueShield, will no longer require prior authorization for medication-assisted treatment for opioid use disorder.
Both tranches of Aetna Inc.'s Vitality Re VIII Ltd. series 2017-1 catastrophe bond priced at the bottom of the initial guidance range, Artemis reported.
The most notable development in the life insurance space this week was the Department of Labor's proposal that would make it easier for larger insurance intermediaries and agents to sell fixed-annuity products on commission, said Sandler O'Neill & Partners analyst John Barnidge. The newly proposed rule is a class exemption to the DOL's fiduciary rule.
Keith Goad was appointed CFO of Central Mutual Insurance Co. and All America Insurance Co., the Insurance Journal reported.
Trump keeps Collins as NIH head; Supreme Court to hear Bristol-Myers Squibb case: A representative for the National Institutes of Health confirmed to S&P Global Market Intelligence that Francis Collins will stay in his position; and the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear a case involving a Bristol-Myer's Squibb lawsuit.
Financial news in other parts of the world
Asia-Pacific: Indonesia holds benchmark rate; Lloyd's India branch gets regulatory nod
Europe: Deutsche faces $3B Jewish trust lawsuit; Sberbank headcount could halve by 2025
Middle East & Africa: More banks report Q4'16 results; Saudi Arabia cash crunch over?
Latin America: Fitch downgrades Costa Rica; Chile cuts benchmark rate
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng slipped 0.71% to 22,885.91, while the Nikkei 225 increased 0.34% to 19,137.91.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 increased 0.03% to 7,210.73, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.42% to 937.37.
On the macro front
No notable reports are due out today.