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Trump era begins with healthcare law rollback; severe weather outbreak hits US

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Trump era begins with healthcare law rollback; severe weather outbreak hits US

In the news

U.S. President Donald Trump signed an executive order targeting the Affordable Care Act within hours of being sworn into office on Jan. 20. The executive order allows federal agencies to "waive, defer, grant exemptions from or delay" rules embedded in the healthcare law, and it directs agencies "to minimize the unwarranted economic and regulatory burdens" of the law, according to a report by The Washington Post.

The executive order serves as a strong signal that Trump's administration was focused on providing regulatory relief to the healthcare sector, said Evercore ISI political analyst Terry Haines. California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones said the executive order will only bring uncertainty to health insurance markets and will lead to health insurers exiting exchanges.

Despite the executive order, advertisements and other promotion efforts for President Barack Obama's healthcare law will continue through the end of January, Politico reported.

Kellyanne Conway, counselor to Trump, said the new administration may no longer enforce the healthcare law provision that penalizes individuals who do not have health insurance, Bloomberg News reported. Conway also said that Trump is planning to convert Medicaid into a block grant, which would give states control over the program, The New York Times reported.

As Trump pushes the GOP to quickly repeal and replace the healthcare law, some Republican governors, including those that serve Ohio, Nevada, Idaho and Alabama, are urging their congressional delegations to cautiously tackle the issue, Bloomberg News reported. The governors declared that they are still in full support of a repeal, but they want a replacement that would not result in Americans losing insurance access.

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A rare January outbreak of severe weather hit the Southeast U.S., killing 18 people and causing injuries to more than 150, according to Aon Benfield's Impact Forecasting. The states that suffered the most were were Georgia, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Florida. Impact Forecasting said economic and insured losses from the outbreak could reach hundreds of millions of dollars or higher.

Insured damage from a devastating tornado that ripped through Hattiesburg, Miss., on Jan. 21 is likely to exceed $200 million, The Associated Press reported, citing state Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney.

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A massive new retroactive reinsurance agreement with Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s National Indemnity Co. may help put to rest persistent investor concerns about reserve volatility at American International Group Inc., but not before the company takes another fourth-quarter charge in response to adverse development, S&P Global Market Intelligence reported.

In related news, lawyers representing U.S. companies expressed concerns that such risk transfer deals would mean that claims are now more likely to be denied and policyholders would have to sue to get payment even for legitimate claims, the Financial Times reported.

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The Department of Housing and Urban Development has suspended a reduction in Federal Housing Administration annual mortgage insurance premium rates.

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While the idea of a "smart home" is still relatively new, a number of insurers including American Standard Insurance Co. of Ohio and LM Insurance Corp. have begun offering discounts to encourage policyholders to use smart home technology, S&P Global Market Intelligence reported.

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The Massachusetts Division of Insurance reached an agreement with insurers over the cost of insurance for long-term care. Roughly 55,000 long-term care insurance policyholders will experience rate increases, but the division said it did not approve any rate increase exceeding 40%.

Featured news

Trump digs in on ACA; Actelion's Opsumit misses in hypertension trial: Canada is pushing for new measures to curb the use of powerful painkillers amid rising deaths due to opioid overdose and addiction, Health Minister Jane Philpott told Reuters. Health Canada will propose to include stickers to warn about these opioid hazards, while an advisory panel will look into the revision of the official label definition for opioid use.

Financial news in other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: Fairfax Financial to sell Indian JV stake; Mizuho may move UK biz amid Brexit

Middle East & Africa: Angolan banks call for bailout package; Abu Dhabi merges wealth funds

Europe: Bank execs back London; HSBC to cut senior jobs; SocGen hit with fine

Latin America: Itaú delays CorpBanca Colombia deal; new chief at Venezuela's central bank

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng climbed 0.06% to 22,898.52, while the Nikkei 225 slid 1.29% to 18,891.03.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was down 0.41% to 7,169.13 and the Euronext 100 by 0.21% to 933.25.

On the macro front

No notable reports are due out today.