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Michael strengthens to Cat 4; September cat losses; Lloyd's Brexit payment vow

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Michael strengthens to Cat 4; September cat losses; Lloyd's Brexit payment vow

Hurricane Michael strengthened to an "extremely dangerous" and "potentially catastrophic" Category 4 storm early Wednesday and is expected to make landfall in the Florida panhandle late this afternoon, according to the National Hurricane Center. It has now maximum sustained winds of close to 145 mph, and a storm surge of up to 14 feet is expected in some areas.

SNL Image

People prepare sandbags in preparation for Hurricane Michael in Ozello, Fla.
Source: Associated Press

In Florida, United Insurance Holdings Corp. held the largest market share by direct premiums written in 2017 for commercial multiperil insurance, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data. Universal Insurance Holdings Inc. was top in the state for homeowners insurance, and Berkshire Hathaway Inc.'s GEICO Corp. recorded the most direct premiums written for private auto.

Meanwhile, in the 11 counties that touch the Gulf of Mexico and are under a hurricane warning, Florida's insurer of last resort, Citizens Property Insurance Corp., has reduced its exposure since the last time a hurricane threatened the area in 2016.

As insurers prepare to deal with the aftermath of Michael, projected economic losses from Hurricane Florence, the costlier of two storms to make landfall in the U.S. during September, will exceed US$10 billion, according to insurance broker Aon PLC's latest Global Catastrophe Recap report. Insured losses will be in the "low-digit billions," however, because of low flood insurance penetration. Billions of dollars in claims are also expected from Typhoon Jebi in Japan, and claims of close to US$1 billion are expected for insurers in Hong Kong and China as a result of Typhoon Mangkhut.

Lloyd's of London is looking to move all of its European Economic Area business to its Brussels subsidiary before the end of 2020. The Brussels subsidiary can begin writing all of Lloyd's EEA business starting Jan. 1, 2019, the marketplace said as it promised to honor all valid claims even in the event of a "hard Brexit."

Italy's Generali launched GeneraliCyberSecurTech, a technology startup that will deploy cyberrisk assessment methodologies for the Italian insurance group's customers.

Alera Group Inc. acquired Distinctive Insurance and GLB Insurance Group of Nevada.

Germany's Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty SE announced that it will split its alternative risk transfer line of business into two teams, effective Nov. 1. The insurance-linked markets team will turn into a stand-alone line of business called capital solutions.

HNA Group Co. Ltd. received regulatory approval for its plan to divest its 50% stake in a troubled Chinese life insurance joint venture, Shin Kong-HNA Life Insurance Co. Ltd.

China is planning to short-list 50 insurers, banks and brokerages as possible systemically important financial institutions as it looks to dramatically expand the current list of about 20 banks, sources told Bloomberg News.

Bermuda-based Sompo International Holdings Ltd. launched a casualty facultative reinsurance operation.

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Share performance showed time was right for Aviva CEO to go, analysts say: Aviva's share price has "flatlined" during the latter portion of Mark Wilson's tenure, one analyst said, while others struggle to see where future profit growth will come from.

China accepts 17 cancer drugs for coverage; FDA flags Trevena opioid for safety: China approved the inclusion of 17 cancer drugs under the national medical insurance coverage; and scientists from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration raised concerns about the high potential for the abuse of Trevena's opioid drug, oliceridine.

In other parts of the world

Asia-Pacific: Indian lender in asset buy; Vietcombank to sell bank stakes; ANZ case adjourned

Europe: BoE flags concerns about leveraged loans; HSBC settles US RMBS claims for $765M

Middle East & Africa: Bank of Israel names new governor; South Africa finance minister resigns

The day ahead

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

In Asia, Hang Seng increased 0.08% to 26,193.07, while the Nikkei 225 rose 0.16% to 23,506.04.

In Europe, around midday, the FTSE 100 increased 0.01% to 7,238.30, and the Euronext 100 decreased 0.56% to 1,025.23.

Click here to read about today's financial markets, laying out the factors driving stocks, bonds and currencies around the world ahead of the New York open.

On the macro front

The MBA mortgage applications report, the Producer Price Index-Final Demand report, the Atlanta Fed business inflation expectations report and the wholesale trade report are due out today.

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