Insurers lead European shares higher as Hurricane Irma weakens

Published 11/09/2017 in Business, Economy & Finance

Insurers lead European shares higher as Hurricane Irma weakens
Traders sit at their desks in front of the DAX board at the Frankfurt stock exchange, Germany, June 29, 2015. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

European shares rose on Monday, led by insurers as the downgrade of Hurricane Irma in the United States raised the prospect that costs for the industry may be lower than initially feared.

MILAN (Reuters) – European shares rose on Monday, led by insurers as the downgrade of Hurricane Irma in the United States raised the prospect that costs for the industry may be lower than initially feared.

Europe&rsquo-s insurance index .SXIP was the biggest sectoral gainer, up 2 percent and set for its best day in more than four months after the estimated insured loss in the U.S. resulting from Irma was cut to $20-40 billion.

&ldquo-Insured losses (overall) are now expected to be less than many feared,&rdquo- Credit Suisse analysts said.

Their gains added fuel to a broad-based rally, helping the pan-European STOXX 600 rise 0.6 percent.

Irma, which hit Florida early on Sunday, came swiftly after Hurricane Harvey, whose costs for the industry have been estimated at $20-$30 billion.

Among top gainers were top world reinsurers Munich Re (MUVGn.DE), Swiss Re (SRENH.S) and Hannover Re (HNRGn.DE), all up over 4 percent, while Britain&rsquo-s Beazley BEZG.L added 6 percent.

Analysts at Baader Helvea upgraded Hannover Re to hold from sell, saying that following the stock&rsquo-s recent heavy losses the market had already priced in an extremely severe scenario.

Europe&rsquo-s insurance index has underperformed the broader market so far in 2017 and is still down 4.5 percent from its year high, hit in early August.

Elsewhere, pharma heavyweight AstraZeneca (AZN.L) rose 2.3 percent after two of its drugs tackling lung cancer delivered impressive clinical results on Saturday.

That helped the British group offset a big clinical trial setback in the disease in July that sent its shares down more than 15 percent, its biggest daily loss ever.

In the same sector, however, Denmark&rsquo-s Lundbeck (LUN.CO) slumped 11 percent, the leading faller in Europe, after the resignation of CEO Kåre Schultz.

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