The Easter break meant an even slower market than usual for insurance shares. The only major movement was from broker Jardine Lloyd Thompson (JLT). Its share price swelled to an impressive 421p at the beginning of last week and remained steady, dropping slowly for over the next 24 hours until Wednesday when its legs gave way, falling to 372p.
According to market sources, the now perennial rumour of a JLT/Benfield merger resurfaced for 24 hours and the share price was buoyant until the bubble burst. In fact a merger, seemingly intangible due to management issues, would be the best thing for both firms. The self-fulfilling prophecy theory could push both their share prices out of the doldrums. While JLT is trading at 382p, Benfield has dropped in the past month from 282p right down to 260p. As Benfield's plans to dominate the US (even to just buy something) in the next few months are as likely as the Queen attending the royal wedding, a marriage of inconvenience with its old rival might work.