In the news
WellCare Health Plans Inc. said it expects adjusted EPS of $6.00 to $6.25 for full year 2017. The guidance includes WellCare's pending acquisition of Care1st Health Plan Arizona Inc. and One Care by Care1st Health Plan of Arizona Inc., but excludes its purchase of Universal American Corp. that is expected to close in the second quarter of 2017.
Additionally, the company reaffirmed its full-year 2016 adjusted EPS guidance of $5.35 to $5.45.
President Barack Obama's administration decided not to move ahead with a proposed rule to test whether lowering reimbursements for Medicare Part B drugs would encourage doctors to prescribe less-expensive medicines, The New York Times reported, citing a Department of Health and Human Services spokesman. The rule, which was aimed at curbing prescription drug spending, faced strong criticism from pharmaceutical companies, doctors, patients and members of Congress from both parties, who argued that it may threaten patients' access to important medications, according to the report.
Fairfax Financial Holdings Ltd. will acquire all of the outstanding ordinary shares of Allied World Assurance Co. Holdings AG for about $4.9 billion in cash and stock. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2017.
Catalina Holdings (Bermuda) Ltd. is the frontrunner to acquire RSA's £600 million U.K. legacy portfolio, The Insurance Insider reported, citing sources. Armour Group Holdings Ltd and Enstar Group Ltd. had also submitted bids for the business, according to the report.
Donegal Mutual Insurance Co., which has touted its ability to merge with underperforming mutuals and return them to profitability, will get an opportunity to again execute on that strategy through a merger with a group that last produced an underwriting gain in 2007, notes an S&P Global Market Intelligence report.
INSURICA Insurance Management Network, of Oklahoma City, announced the acquisition of Texas-based DFB Insurance Group LLC. The deal is effective Jan. 1, 2017, and the combined company will be named INSURICA DFB Insurance Services LLC.
A record 670,000 people signed up for health insurance using HealthCare.gov on Dec. 15, making it the busiest day ever, President Obama said at a press conference, The Wall Street Journal reported. The Obama administration also extended the enrollment deadline for Jan. 1, 2017, coverage to Dec. 19 from Dec. 15 following heavy traffic on the website.
Enstar Group has filed an automatic shelf registration statement for the sale by selling shareholders of 514,527 ordinary shares.
Heritage Insurance Holdings Inc. closed its previously announced private placement of senior secured notes, which have an aggregate principal amount of $79.5 million.
Fairfax Financial Holdings completed its offering of C$450 million of 4.70% senior notes due 2026.
The high multiples private equity-backed brokers are said to be paying for prospective acquisition targets have not deterred Arthur J. Gallagher & Co. from another active year on the M&A front. S&P Global Market Intelligence has credited the company with 30 acquisition announcements involving companies in a variety of niches and geographies year-to-date through Dec. 14, down slightly from the 32 deal announcements it made during the same time frame in 2015.
Ordinary and group annuity considerations for two of the largest writers in the U.S. for the first nine months of 2016 were down more than 20% compared with the nine-month period ended Sept. 30, 2015, according to a S&P Global Market Intelligence report.
The 10 largest insurers of auto physical damage, based on direct premiums written, saw their direct incurred loss ratios rise year over year in the third quarter, according to SNL data. The direct incurred loss ratio for the line across the entire industry stood at its highest third-quarter level in at least 15 years.
BlackRock Inc. won several asset management mandates from large P&C and life insurers in 2015, putting it atop an insurance asset manager ranking compiled by S&P Global Market Intelligence.
And, click here to access S&P Global Market Intelligence's news portal for the 2016 election, which features highlights from our coverage of the presidential and congressional elections.
AstraZeneca oncology head to join Innate Pharma; Japan to undertake price review: AstraZeneca PLC's head of oncology is joining Innate Pharma SA. The company appointed Mondher Mahjoubi as chairman of the executive board, replacing Hervé Brailly who has been appointed the chairman of the Innate Pharma supervisory board.
Financial news in other parts of the world
Asia-Pacific: Bank of Singapore mulls opening UK bank; National Australia Bank sues Google
Europe: Deutsche Bank settles US 'dark pool' probe; Generali denies French ops sale
Middle East & Africa: Oman bucks the Fed trend; bitcoin piques Nigeria's interest
Latin America: Banco Invex to buy Mexican card portfolio; BM&FBOVESPA sets 2017 budgets
The day ahead
Early morning futures indicators pointed to a higher opening for the U.S. market.
In Asia, the Hang Seng slipped 1.03 % to 21,832.68, while the Nikkei 225 fell 0.05% to 19,391.60.
In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.07% to 7,016.55 and the Euronext 100 was down by 0.11% to 924.82
On the macro front
No notable economic reports are due out today.