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UnitedHealth ups guidance; FedNat's Michael loss; Florida freezes rate hikes

UnitedHealth Group Inc. today reported third-quarter earnings from operations of $4.59 billion, up from $4.09 billion in the year-ago period. Net earnings attributable to common shareholders rose to $3.19 billion, or $3.24 per share, from $2.49 billion, or $2.51 per share, and the company said it expects full-year EPS and adjusted net EPS to come in above its previous target ranges.

UnitedHealth was the first of the nine largest managed care companies to report third-quarter figures, with analyst projections calling for seven of them to see EPS rise year over year, according to an S&P Global Market Intelligence review.

Meanwhile, shares in German insurer Talanx AG were down nearly 5.5% in early afternoon trading after the company slashed its 2018 group net income outlook to approximately €700 million from €850 million because of several large losses and an "unusually large" accumulation of frequency losses in industrial property insurance.

As Florida cleans up from Hurricane Michael, the state's Office of Insurance Regulation issued an emergency order allowing benefits like extension of grace periods and temporary postponement of cancellations or nonrenewals and other benefits. Rate hikes are also frozen for 90 days.

AIR Worldwide yesterday estimated that industry insured losses from Michael's winds and storm surge will come in at between $6 billion and $10 billion.

FedNat Holding Co. expects aggregate gross losses of approximately $275 million as a result of Michael, but expects its reinsurance program to cover the bulk of the losses. The company's FedNat Insurance Co. and Monarch National Insurance Co. units expect that their losses net of reinsurance will not exceed respective first event pretax retentions of $20 million and $3 million.

According to Morgan Stanley analysts, reinsurance prices may hold up better than had been anticipated at the upcoming January 2019 renewals, possibly supported by the recent hurricanes and storms, Artemis reported.

Violent rainstorms caused flash floods in southwest France, which affected a number of villages and towns around Carcassonne and killed at least 13 people, The Associated Press reported, citing officials. The devastation was triggered in part by the remnants of former Hurricane Leslie, which had circulated in the Atlantic Ocean for about three weeks.

Anthem Inc. agreed to pay $16 million to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in connection with a series of cyberattacks that affected electronic protected health information it maintained for affiliated health plans and other covered entity health plans.

Singapore's sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings (Pte.) Ltd. is looking to acquire a stake in China's Anbang Insurance Group Co. Ltd., as well as some of its assets, Bloomberg News reported. Temasek has held talks with Chinese authorities about the possible stake purchase. The company, however, is not currently engaged in active talks.

Australia's Suncorp Group Ltd. hired an adviser to review options for its general insurance distribution arm, Resilium Pty. Ltd., The Australian Financial Review's Street Talk reported. All options will be considered, although a sale is considered the likeliest outcome, according to the report.

Marine mutual insurer The Strike Club and The Standard Club are seeking a merger. Under the terms of the deal, The Strike Club would become part of The Standard Club and remain a member-controlled dedicated mutual delay insurer.

Now featured on S&P Global Market Intelligence

Deal signals 3rd phase for ABA's community bank insurance program: ABA Insurance Services has written its professional liability business on the paper of an Everest Re unit for most of the past decade. The MGA will soon become part of American Financial Group's Great American business.

J&J ups outlook as Q3 profit rises; Trump seeks drug price disclosure in ads: Johnson & Johnson raised its adjusted EPS guidance for 2018 as the company's third-quarter profit increased 7.9%; and the Trump administration proposed requiring drugmakers to include the list prices of their medicines in television advertisements.

In other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: NAB flags extra A$314M costs; Suncorp mulls unit sale; Star Health deal gets nod

Europe: Santander, Blackstone in Popular talks before resolution; Slovenia to float NLB

Middle East & Africa: Old Mutual cuts Nedbank stake; Masraf Al Rayan posts YOY rise in Q3 profit

The day ahead

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

In Asia, Hang Seng gained 0.07% to 25,462.26, while the Nikkei 225 rose 1.25% to 22,549.24.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 shed 0.30% to 7,008.24, and the Euronext 100 rose 0.44% to 992.65.

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

On the macro front

The Redbook index for retail sales, the industrial production report, the housing market index, the Labor Department's Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey and the Treasury International Capital report are due out today.

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