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Assurant, AXIS loss estimates; US-UK covered agreement; MS&AD ups ReAssure stake

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Assurant, AXIS loss estimates; US-UK covered agreement; MS&AD ups ReAssure stake

A significant portion of the gross insured losses from the fourth-quarter California wildfires are expected to be ceded to various global reinsurance markets, reducing the net exposure of the domestic primary market, Fitch Ratings said. Also, total insured losses from Hurricane Michael have reached $4.53 billion, according to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.

Bermudian reinsurer AXIS Capital Holdings Ltd. is expecting pretax losses of $125 million to $150 million from California wildfires, based on total estimated insured losses of $20 billion. Additionally, the preliminary pretax loss estimate for Hurricane Michael is currently at the higher end of the previously disclosed $100 million to $120 million estimate.

Meanwhile, Assurant Inc.'s global housing segment could see fourth-quarter reportable pretax catastrophe losses of between $110 million and $150 million.

Japan-based MS&AD Insurance Group Holdings Inc. agreed with Swiss Re AG to invest an additional £315 million in ReAssure, the latter's U.K. closed life book consolidator. MS&AD will raise its stake in ReAssure to 25% from 15%.

Direct Line Insurance Group PLC is mulling whether to make a £400 million offer for the general insurance business of fellow U.K. insurer Legal & General Group PLC, Sky News reported.

Cigna Corp.'s acquisition of Express Scripts Holding Co. is expected to close today after the transaction received all required regulatory approvals.

The European Commission approved China Reinsurance (Group) Corp.'s $950 million acquisition of specialty insurance group Chaucer PLC from Hanover Insurance Group Inc.

MetLife Inc. agreed to pay a $1 million administrative fine to settle allegations that it made materially misleading statements in public filings to investors and failed to pay pension benefits to tens of thousands of retirees it improperly treated as "presumed dead."

Hong Kong's Insurance Authority granted the first license under an expedited scheme for digital-only insurers to local startup Bowtie Life Insurance Co. Ltd.

Hannover Re facilitated two private catastrophe bonds representing a total of $27 million in U.S. property catastrophe risks through its Bermudian Kaith Re platform, Artemis reported.

Lloyd's of London appointed Sonja Rottiers CEO of its Brussels unit.

Bermuda-based FGL Holdings appointed Christopher Blunt president and CEO, succeeding Christopher Littlefield. FGL's board also authorized a share repurchase program of up to $150 million of the company's outstanding common stock and announced a cost reduction program that is expected to generate about $15 million of annualized expense savings.

The U.S. and U.K. signed an agreement that maintains the provisions of the U.S.-EU covered agreement on insurance and reinsurance market access following Britain's departure from the bloc.

And Willis Towers Watson PLC said more than $1.3 billion of funding was raised by insurance technology companies in the third quarter, double the amount recorded in the second quarter, even as the number of transactions dropped 20% to 57.

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More potential upside to US life industry's rising mortgage loan concentration: After the U.S. life insurance industry's relative portfolio allocation to mortgage loans hit a new high for a seventh consecutive quarter, several signs point to continued incremental growth.

Reinsurance prices flat for now, but ILS-fueled retrocession crunch looms: Ahead of the crucial Jan. 1 renewals, market participants have seen little evidence of rate increases so far for non-loss-affected reinsurance business, but a shortage of retrocession capacity could push up prices.

Pfizer back in hot seat over pricing; valsartan recall has FDA playing catchup: Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon wants Pfizer to justify the price increases of Lyrica; and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is playing catchup in its efforts to prevent recalled drugs such as valsartan from entering the U.S. market.

In other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: Punjab National Bank officials arrested; Bursa Malaysia names CEO

Europe: EU outlines no-deal Brexit plan; UK banks named in RBS scheme

Middle East & Africa: Nasdaq Dubai to launch futures trading; Gulf nations hike rates after Fed move

The day ahead

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

In Asia, Hang Seng fell 0.94% to 25,623.53, while the Nikkei 225 was down 2.84% to 20,392.58.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 fell 0.26% to 6,748.23, and the Euronext 100 was down 1.14% to 917.00.

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 jobless claims report, the Philadelphia Fed Business Outlook survey, the leading indicators report, the Energy Information Administration natural gas report, the fed balance sheet and the money supply report are due out today.

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