Lloyd's syndicates on top

Lloyd's insurers stole the spotlight last week as a string of syndicates revealed that interim profits will beat market expectations.

Amlin, Brit, Wellington Underwriting and Beazley all boasted of strong results - thanks to few claims and strong investment returns.

As Insurance Times went to press they were all trading at highs - Amlin at 186p, Brit at around 91p and Wellington at 108p. Beazley hit 95p a share.

Royal & SunAlliance (R&SA) was again a talking point, with dealers still hoping it may be taken over. Shares are trading at 94p on speculation that both Zurich and AXA are potential predators.

Zurich admitted it was considering takeovers when it delivered its interim figures last Thursday.

However, the £15bn insurer said it was primarily looking in Spain, Italy and Germany. Bear Stearns also poured cold water on the bid speculation, repeating its underperform rating on R&SA.

Meanwhile Credit Suisse First Boston was upbeat on Aviva, naming it as its preferred UK insurance stock. The bank repeated its outperformance rating on the insurer, which is trading at around 615p, and lifted its target price from 694p to 716p.

' Yvette Essen is stock market reporter and insurance correspondent for The Daily Telegraph