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Health co-op to drop '17 individual policies; AIG lead insurer for crashed plane

In the news

The Maryland Insurance Administration announced that Evergreen Health Cooperative Inc. will not issue or renew individual health benefit policies, on and off the state's exchange, for plan year 2017. The insurer intends to convert to for-profit status following financial stress earlier in 2016, the Baltimore Business Journal reported.

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American International Group Inc. is the lead insurer covering a Pakistan International Airlines aircraft that crashed on Dec. 7 killing all passengers on board, The Insurance Insider reported. The hull of the aircraft is valued at $12 million and the insurance policy was brokered by Marsh & McLennan Cos. Inc. and UIB, the news outlet reported, citing market sources.

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The U.S. Justice Department questioned whether the plan of Aetna Inc. and Humana Inc. to sell some of their Medicare Advantage assets to Molina Healthcare Inc. would be sufficient to address competitive concerns about their pending merger, The Wall Street Journal reported. During the trial of the lawsuit to block the deal, the Justice Department questioned Molina's ability to preserve competition in the event of a merger between Aetna and Humana.

And a recent decision by the U.S. Court of Federal Claims related to the Affordable Care Act's risk corridor program now requires Humana to essentially write off $591 million of receivables outstanding as of Sept. 30. Federal Claims Judge Charles Lettow rejected Land of Lincoln Mutual Health Insurance Co.'s lawsuit that accused the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of violating an agreement to repay distressed insurers that offered coverage on state-run public exchanges.

Shares of Aetna and Humana edged down gradually during the week ended Dec. 8 as both managed care giants appeared at the antitrust trial to defend their multibillion-dollar deal. Aetna shares fell 3.14% on the week to $129.30, and Humana dropped 3.24% to $206.70.

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Athene Holding Ltd. announced the pricing of the IPO of 27 million of its class A common shares at $40 per share.

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Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal denied State Farm's emergency request to stay California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones' order to reduce homeowner and renter rates by 7% and issue refunds totaling more than $100 million to policyholders. This means the rate reduction will take effect Dec. 13 as scheduled. A court hearing on State Farm's motion for a stay is set for Dec 16.

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Allstate Corp. closed its public offering of $550 million aggregate principal amount of its 3.280% senior notes due Dec. 15, 2026, and $700 million aggregate principal amount of its 4.200% senior notes due Dec. 15, 2046.

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Summit, N.J.-based Specialty Program Group acquired the assets of Traverse City, Mich.-based insurance brokerage Global Marine Insurance Agency. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

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Fort Worth, Texas-based independent insurance broker Higginbotham & Associates LLC acquired Houston-based Insurance Associates of the Southwest, the Dallas Business Journal reported. Higginbotham CFO Jim Krause said the company raised $8 million in debt to finance the acquisition.

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With the selection of Andrew Puzder for secretary of Labor, a federal challenge to the current Department of Labor's Conflict of Interest Rule appears likely under President-elect Donald Trump's administration — though it could be months before the new administration can mount an attack. Puzder, the CEO of CKE Restaurants, has been a longtime critic of government regulation and has contributed an op-ed to The Wall Street Journal arguing that the Affordable Care Act should be repealed and has said that the federal minimum wage should not be raised above $9 an hour.

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Genworth Financial Inc. President and CEO Thomas McInerney and a top executive from China Oceanwide Holdings Group Co. Ltd. will meet in a closed session with state insurance regulators in Miami on Dec. 11 to discuss the Chinese investment company's proposed deal to buy the largest U.S. long-term care insurer, a spokeswoman for Genworth confirmed.

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The oil-rich county of McKenzie, N.D., is estimated to be the fastest-growing county between 2015 and 2017 for households carrying life, auto and residential insurance, according to an S&P Global Market Intelligence analysis of demographic data collected by Nielsen.

Featured news

Amyloid-beta theory still on for Alzheimer's; Sanofi's Warp Drive eyes targets: Patients in the phase 1 clinical trial of Biogen Inc.'s aducanumab, its investigational treatment for early Alzheimer's disease, appeared to have a slower progression of symptoms compared to those on placebo, Bloomberg News reported.

Financial news in other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: Chinese exchanges eye Pakistan bourse stake; ANZ to sell finance unit

Europe: ECB to extend but cut QE; France's Cahuzac handed jail term over tax fraud

Middle East & Africa: Creditors call in Saudi Oger debt; 2nd South African exchange to debut

Latin America: Santander México to invest 15B pesos; 2 Bradesco execs leave

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng slipped 0.44% to 22,760.98, while the Nikkei 225 increased 1.23% to 18,996.37.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.21% to 6,946.08, and the Euronext 100 was up 0.51% to 911.86.

On the macro front

The consumer sentiment report and the wholesale trade report are due out today.