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Berkshire '16 P&C profit at risk from AIG deal; ACA replacement unveiled

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Berkshire '16 P&C profit at risk from AIG deal; ACA replacement unveiled

In the news

Four Republicans introduced an Affordable Care Act replacement bill, called the Patient Freedom Act of 2017, that will keep some parts of the health law intact while repealing others. U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy, R-La.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; and Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., introduced the legislation, which offers states three options to provide health coverage to consumers, including reimplementing ACA.

The senators claim that the proposal reflects what President Donald Trump wants in a replacement plan, Bloomberg News reported. However, Republicans who are calling for the repeal of all healthcare law taxes are expected to go against the proposal because it relies on those taxes in order to work.

Some U.S. fund managers, including those from Fidelity, GAMCO and Thornburg, project that Republicans will not completely dismantle ACA, Reuters reported. Expecting limited changes to the law that could impact the healthcare sector, the fund managers are buying shares of hospitals, health insurance companies and biotech firms.

Andy Slavitt will work on saving the healthcare law or at least preserve as much of it as possible, Politico reported. Following his stint as Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services acting administrator, he plans to engage in discussions with CEOs, governors, drug companies and other entities to champion improvement of the law instead of a repeal.

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Credit Suisse Group Inc. analysts led by Ryan Tunis warned that Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s P&C business is at risk of recording its first annual underwriting loss since 2002 because of the large size of the risk transfer agreement with American International Group Inc., Bloomberg News reported. The analysts said the company could get about $8 billion of "total projected benefit" from the contract based on Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett's investment record and a review of prior reinsurance transactions.

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The positive market response seen by the insurance-linked securities sector in 2016 is projected to continue into 2017 as investors reinvest available capital and continue to participate in alternative reinsurance transactions, Aon Securities CEO Paul Schultz said in a news release. Aon Securities anticipates catastrophe bond issuance in 2017 to approach record levels, with primary catastrophe bond issuance expected to hit $8 billion on a preliminary basis.

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W. R. Berkley Corp. put on hold the underwriting of its London market marine business, The Insurance Insider reported. The future of the $30 million book, which includes marine hull, liability, marine war and cargo, is under review.

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Siam Commercial Bank PCL is seeking formal bids for its insurance business, Reuters reported. Prudential Plc, AIA Group Ltd. and Manulife Financial Corp. are among the interested parties.

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Activist shareholder group Driehaus Capital Management LLC increased its stake in Stewart Information Services Corp.

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In earnings news, Travelers Cos. Inc. reported fourth-quarter 2016 operating income of $919 million, or $3.20 per share, up from $886 million, or $2.90 per share, in the year-ago quarter.

Brown & Brown Inc. reported fourth-quarter 2016 organic revenue growth in core commissions and fees of 3.5%, down from 4.3% growth in the previous quarter.

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Risk managers expect commercial U.S. property and casualty rates to decline around 1% in 2017, The Insurance Insider reported, citing Barclays' semi-annual buyers' survey.

The Office of New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has reached a settlement with Cigna Corp. requiring the health insurer to eliminate a written ban on coverage for claims of neuropsychological testing of psychiatric conditions and autism spectrum disorder.

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Proposals introduced by Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va.; and Rep. Richard Neal, D-Mass., to impose a special punitive tax on foreign-based companies providing reinsurance to U.S. affiliates will reduce the amount of insurance and reinsurance coverage available in the market, effectively increasing the costs for consumers, homeowners and businesses, according to a study released by Brattle Group.

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In executive moves, American Integrity hired Cory Brown as CFO.

The Doctors Co. appointed Bill Fleming COO.

Independence Health Group Inc. named Gregory Deavens CFO.

Featured news

J&J eyeing potential sale of diabetes unit; GOP senators propose ACA option: Johnson & Johnson is evaluating "potential strategic options" for its diabetes care business; Two Republican lawmakers say states should be allowed to choose between retaining the Affordable Care Act or adopting a replacement.

Financial news in other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: South Korea, HK sign financial data deal; 2 foreign banks get Indian license

Middle East & Africa: Mauritius PM passes baton to son; Ecobank loses deputy head

Europe: Generali reacts to Intesa; Deutsche faces class-action; Brexit news expected

Latin America: Scotiabank Chile open to deals; Banregio's Q4'16 profit up 45%

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng rose 0.22% to 22,949.86, while the Nikkei 225 fell 0.55% to 18,787.99.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 gained 0.10% to 7,158.41, and the Euronext 100 climbed 0.07% to 930.81.

On the macro front

The Redbook, the PMI manufacturing index flash, the existing home sales report and the Richmond Fed manufacturing index are due out today.