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Australia bushfire insurance losses surge; Neon headed for runoff; cat bonds

The Insurance Council of Australia said insurance losses from bushfires raging in the country have now reached A$700 million. Since September, insurers have received 8,985 claims from the states of New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia, and this is expected to rise.

American Financial Group Inc. is placing Lloyd's of London insurer Neon Underwriting Ltd. into runoff. The decision to exit the Lloyd's insurance market came after American Financial determined that Neon will not meet its return expectations following a review of the latter's anticipated results for 2019 and its 2020 prospects.

Argo Group International Holdings Ltd. is winding up its operations in Miami, The Insurance Insider reported. The move came after the carrier initiated a strategic review of its business.

The Swiss Re AG-sponsored Matterhorn Re Ltd. (Series 2020-1) catastrophe bond has doubled in size to a $350 million issuance, Artemis reported. The class A tranche of notes expanded to $175 million from $100 million at launch, while the class B tranche of notes grew to $175 million from an initial target of $75 million.

Hannover Re is seeking $100 million or more of retrocession through an international multi-peril 3264 Re Ltd. (Series 2020-1) catastrophe bond, its first in years, Artemis wrote.

Peak Reinsurance Co. Ltd. renewed and upsized its Lion Rock Re Ltd. reinsurance sidecar to US$77 million. Lion Rock Re will enter into an exclusive quota share arrangement with Peak Re to reinsure part of its global property reinsurance portfolio.

Tiptree Inc. subsidiary Tiptree Warranty Holdings LLC acquired all outstanding equity interests of Smart AutoCare and affiliated entities.

Tokio Marine Seguradora SA entered into a definitive agreement to establish an insurance joint venture in São Paulo with Caixa Econômica Federal subsidiary Caixa Seguridade Participações SA.

Tokio Marine & Nichido Fire Insurance Co. Ltd. is selling 1,739,071 RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd. common shares, or roughly a 3.9% stake, in an underwritten public offering.

The Chinese government wants to spur the development of annuities and endowment insurance to diversify stock market investment, Reuters reported, citing the state-backed Securities Times newspaper.

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Allstate approved for swathe of rate hikes in November: Overall, five of November's 10 most significant rate hikes, in terms of premium increases, were approved for Allstate group, including one in Illinois that could bring in an additional $24.1 million of premiums.

Anthem, Cigna pass Chubb in Q4'19 insurer market cap rankings: Property and casualty giant Chubb fell two positions in the rankings after shedding 3.7% of its market cap in the final quarter of 2019.

Insurance for individual terror victims could be on cards, says Pool Re CEO: Julian Enoizi said victim compensation "is an interesting question for the future" following the U.K. terrorism reinsurer's efforts to plug commercial insurance coverage gaps.

In other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: AMTD eyes Singapore digital bank license; India revises urban coop bank rules

Europe: UBS revamps EMEA wealth unit, to cut 500 jobs; 2 German co-op banks in M&A talks

Middle East & Africa: Absa Group names CEO; Plus500 expects lower FY'19 revenue

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng gained 0.34% to 28,322.06. Nikkei 225 was up 1.60% to 23,575.72.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.11% to 7,583.60, and the Euronext 100 increased 0.12% to 1,157.28.

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 International Trade report, Redbook, Factory Orders report and ISM Non-Manufacturing Index are due out today.

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