Zurich Insurance reports growth in the first quarter
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The Zurich Insurance Group achieved growth in the first quarter of 2023. The Group grew both in the larger property and casualty (P&C) insurance business as well as in new life insurance business. At the same time, Zurich presented the key figures on volume development in a new accounting set-up. Zurich now also publishes insurance income as part of the IFRS 17 adjustments. The so-called insurance income or insurance sales rose in the months January to March by 7 percent to 9.41 billion US dollars in the non-life segment, according to a statement on Wednesday. In local currencies, insurance revenue in the non-life business climbed by as much as 11 per cent. The growth was driven by tariff hikes. In life insurance, the quarterly update continues to focus on new business. Zurich estimates the present value of premiums from new business at 4.16 billion dollars. This corresponds to an increase of 17 percent or 23 percent in local currencies compared to the previous year. The reporting on capital adequacy remains unchanged. Zurich estimates the Swiss Solvency Test (SST) ratio at 258 percent, compared to 267 percent at the beginning of the year.
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Trading on the Swiss stock exchange was again characterised by a lack of momentum on Tuesday. The SMI lost 0.5 per cent to 11,520 points. Among the 20 SMI stocks, there were 14 price losers and 6 price winners. 29.85 (Monday: 20.72) million shares were traded. While Logitech and Alcon were at the top of the gainers with only very moderate advances of around 0.5 per cent, Partners Group ranked at the bottom, as on the previous day. This time, however, the dormant loss for the financial stock was slightly larger, amounting to 2.2 per cent. Swiss Life, which had still risen by 1.1 per cent without news on Monday, was far behind this time with a minus of 1.4 per cent. In addition, Geberit and Givaudan each fell by just over 1 per cent. There was markedly more activity in the second tier. Sonova fell by over 10 per cent. According to Jefferies, the hearing aid manufacturer disappointed with its outlook, while the 2022/23 business figures were solid according to analysts. Shares of athletic footwear maker On were also down nearly 7 per cent. After the company reported a 200 per cent increase in profits for the first quarter, profit-taking was probably the main reason for the negative share price reaction. The share has gained 94 per cent since the beginning of the year.
European stocks struggled for momentum on Tuesday, as investors continued to monitor debt-ceiling negotiations. The Stoxx Europe 600 index fell 0.4% to 464.7 points. In Paris, the CAC 40 and SBF 120 were down 0.2 percent each. The DAX 40 in Frankfurt dropped 0.1% and the FTSE 100 in London lost 0.3%. Edenred (+1.1%), the creator of meal vouchers, announced the acquisition of British employee benefits company Reward Gateway for £1.15bn (€1.3bn) from investment funds Abry Partners and Castik Capital. Bouygues tumbled 3.7% as the diversified group reported quarterly results higher-than-expected by analysts but marred by weak momentum in telecoms. Technip Energies gained 6.4% after announcing a "major" contract in Qatar to design two new natural gas liquefaction units. Telecom Italia slid 2.2% in Milan after a press report indicated that Italian state-owned investment company Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP) would consider withdrawing from the bidding process for its fixed network. Vodafone (-7.4% in London) is slashing 11,000 jobs over three years as part of Chief Executive Margherita Della Valle's drive to turn around the British telecoms group, which also reported slightly lower-than-expected annual results.
Major stocks indexes fell on Tuesday despite support from growth stocks. Shares of companies in most industries traded lower with debt-ceiling negotiations remaining at a standstill. The S&P 500 slipped 0.6%, while the Nasdaq Composite edged 0.2% lower. The Dow industrials fell 336 points, or 1%. Retail-sales data released before the market opened showed Americans modestly increased their spending in April. But consumers are holding off on big purchases and spending more on experiences. The shift among consumers hit Home Depot, which reported a decline in first-quarter sales on Tuesday. The home-improvement company cut its forecasts for the year, sending shares 2.2% lower on the day and building year-to-date losses to 11%. While Home Depot’s murky outlook weighed on overall market sentiment, the S&P 500’s two most dominant sectors this year—communication services and tech—finished the day in the green. Shares of Google-parent Alphabet rose 2.7% on Tuesday, lifting the Nasdaq. A securities filing late Monday showed billionaire Bill Ackman’s hedge fund, Pershing Square Capital Management, built a billion-dollar stake in the tech company during the first quarter. Meanwhile, warnings around the debt ceiling grew louder, further adding pressure to stocks. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has said that the U.S. could become unable to pay its bills as soon as June 1 if Congress doesn’t first raise the federal borrowing limit. She doubled down on the severity of a potential debt-ceiling mishap in Tuesday remarks to community bankers. The debt ceiling also has rattled the market for short-term U.S. government debt. Many investors are seeking to avoid Treasury bills that mature around early June, when the Treasury could be unable to make some payments. Others are taking advantage of the higher rates on those securities, expecting the government to get a deal done.
Asian stocks were mixed on Wednesday. In Tokyo, the Nikkei index rose by 0.8 percent. The index is supported by better than expected data relating to economic growth. Japan's gross domestic product grew by 1.6 percent in real terms year-on-year between January and March. The Hang Seng Index is down 0.6 percent at the Hong Kong stock exchange. In South Korea, the Kospi gains 0.6 percent. LG Display soar 2.5 percent. According to media reports, the flat panel display manufacturer may supply OLED television panels to Samsung Electronics.
U.S. government debt yields rose on Tuesday, with the 30-year rate finishing at its highest since March, as a rebound in U.S. retail sales reinforced the higher-for-longer theme on interest rates. The yield on the 10-year Treasury advanced 3 basis points to 3.543%. The yield on the 2-year Treasury rose 8 basis points to 4.08%.
Bell target price: Research Partners raises to CHF 300 (280) - Hold
Target price Richemont: Bank of America upgrades to 200 (185) Swiss francs - Buy
Target price Sika: Goldman Sachs lifts target price to CHF 323 (318) - Buy
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