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Data room: Share price movements

US (re)insurers dip nearly 2%

US (re)insurance stocks fell by an average of 1.9 percent last week as global stock markets weakened after Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke made comments suggesting that quantitative easing might be reined in.

The subsector was down by more than the 1.1 percent fall on the S&P 500. The sell-off accompanied the news of the Oklahoma tornado - one of the first catastrophe losses of the year.

Berkshire Hathaway also received a downgrade to its counterparty credit rating from Standard & Poor's (S&P), which moved the firm from AA+ to AA following a revision to the agency's methodology on rating (re)insurers.

However, S&P did maintain an AA+ counterparty credit and financial strength rating on Berkshire Hathaway's core operating insurance companies.

S&P credit analyst John Iten said the credit rating downgrade reflects Berkshire Hathaway's dependence on its core insurance operations for most of its dividend income.

London falls in line with FTSE

The London group of (re)insurers tracked by The Insurance Insider fell by 1.58 percent on average last week, in line with the FTSE 100's 1.51 percent drop.

Beazley, having gained by far the most of the group over the year to date, was the largest faller, while Lancashire was also down by more than 2 percent.

Hiscox held up slightly better, falling 1 percent as it was revealed that the insurer is considering signing up to an underwriting portfolio arrangement with Aon that may see it take a 10 percent share of portions of the broker's North American property book.

European stocks dragged down

European (re)insurance stocks were down 1.9 percent last week, with UK motor insurer Admiral and Germany-based Talanx the only companies to make gains.

Talanx subsidiary Hannover Re was at the other end of the scale in falling more than 5 percent, which was well ahead of the group's average of a 1.85 percent decline.

Hannover Re recently switched its legal status from that of a German firm to a European company (Societas Europaea), opening up the possibility of it moving headquarters.

As EU talks over Solvency II continue, the company wishes to keep its options open because the Omnibus II directive - an amendment to the new regime - may disadvantage a group subsidiary like Hannover Re that is based in the same country as its parent Talanx.

Willis leads broker falls with 5% decline

Willis trailed behind the performance of the broker market group tracked by The Insurance Insider last week as its share price fell 5 percent, compared to the group average of a 1.7 percent decline.

It comes as The Insurance Insider revealed the firm is in advanced talks to line up a panel of insurers with whom it would place 20 percent of its London specialty book of marine, energy, aviation, construction and P&C business.

Despite the sell-off, Willis is still up 18 percent this year, in line with its global rivals MMC and Aon.

The broker has previously launched a similar concept for its financial lines book through the Finmar360 programme.

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