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Hefty Calif. wildfire rate hikes coming; Ping An cuts agency force; Intact deal

The California Supreme Court rejected Mercury Insurance Co.'s petition for review thereby upholding a $27.6 million fine that the state's insurance department imposed on the insurer for charging illegal fees. In 2015, the department ordered Mercury Insurance to pay the fine for charging auto insurance customers fees without the state insurance commissioner's approval.

Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. of China Ltd.'s first-half consolidated net profit attributable to shareholders of the parent company was up by 68.1% year over year to 97.68 billion Chinese yuan. China's biggest life insurer by premiums shrank its agent force in the first half of 2019, the first cut in at least four years, as it increased the use of technology in customer-facing processes.

The U.K. high court declined to sanction the a £12.0 billion annuity transfer from Prudential Assurance Co. Ltd. to Rothesay Life PLC. The ruling does not affect M&GPrudential's demerger from Prudential PLC, and the companies can appeal the judgement.

Prudential Assurance had entered into an agreement with Rothesay Life for the sale of M&G Prudential's £12.0 billion shareholder annuity portfolio in March 2018.

Allstate Corp. recorded an estimated $235 million in pretax catastrophe losses, or $186 million after tax, for the month of July.

Reinsurance rates for California wildfires could increase by 30% to 70% in the 2020 renewals, S&P Global Ratings said.

Tropical storm Krosa made landfall near Hiroshima, Japan, BBC News reported, citing Japan's Meteorological Agency. The storm, heading to northern Japan, has left at least one person dead and at least 49 injured.

In deals, Canada-based Intact Financial Corp. will acquire Guarantee Co. of North America and Frank Cowan Co. Ltd. from Princeton Holdings Ltd for about C$1 billion in cash.

The underwriters of ProSight Global, Inc.'s previously announced IPO of 7,857,145 common shares fully exercised their overallotment option. The underwriters purchased an additional 1,178,570 common shares from selling shareholders at $14 per share, less the underwriting discount.

Aegon NV is considering buying longevity reinsurance and tapping private equity to unlock capital from its Dutch life insurance business.

Navigators Group Inc. will no longer write marine hull business out of London.

Kingsway Financial Services Inc. is unable to timely file its quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the second quarter ended June 30 because it has not yet filed its quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the first quarter ended March 31.

Aon PLC unit Aon Reinsurance Solutions appointed Don Magee chairman of its U.K. business, Artemis reported.

In other appointments, Travelers Cos. Inc. named Yafit Cohn to the newly created position of chief sustainability officer. And, Manulife Financial Corp. unit Manulife Philippines named Richard Bates president and CEO.

Banco Central do Brasil will play a bigger role in supervising insurance and pension funds with the creation of a new regulatory body for the segments, Valor Econômico reported.

Now featured on S&P Global Market Intelligence

Strait of Hormuz tensions hardening marine war insurance market: The seizure of British-flagged ship Stena Impero near the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf in July has kept pressure on marine hull war insurance prices, reversing years of falling rates.

Yield curve warns of greater recession risk, but bond market signal not perfect: While the latest yield curve inversion signals investors' increasingly pessimistic outlook on the economy, there are reasons to believe it may not be the accurate recession predictor that it was in the past.

Roche gets FDA approval for tumor-agnostic cancer drug; ICER flags DMD drugs: Roche received U.S. approval for Rozlytrek to treat cancers in different parts of the body that share a specific mutation; and a U.S. price watchdog concluded Duchenne muscular dystrophy therapies require steep discounts to be cost-effective.

In other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: Ping An Insurance H1 up 68.1%; MLC to restructure; Japan is top US T-bill holder

Europe: ECB website hacked; Volksbank warns about H2 profit; Latvian bank deemed failing

Middle East & Africa: Provisions dent Hapoalim Q2 profit; KCB H1 profit up; Ghana's liquidity squeeze

The day ahead

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

In Asia, the Hang Seng rose 0.94% to 25,734.22, and the Nikkei 225 inched up 0.06% to 20,418.81.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 was up 0.65% to 7,112.80, and the Euronext 100 was up 1.20% to 1,029.76.

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 housing starts report, the quarterly services report, the consumer sentiment report and the Baker-Hughes Rig Count report are due out today.

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