The week's winners
Wellington up 31.9%
Aon up 31.7%
BRIT up 30.8%
Cox up 28.8%

The week's losers
Culver down 21.6%
Zurich Financial Services down 6.7%

Much of the excitement …

The week's winners
Wellington up 31.9%
Aon up 31.7%
BRIT up 30.8%
Cox up 28.8%

The week's losers
Culver down 21.6%
Zurich Financial Services down 6.7%

Much of the excitement in the insurance sector is coming from niche players, such as the Lloyd's operators, at the moment, as big composites continue in failing to persuade investors they're a good buy.

Are the bull voices beginning to be heard again?

Legal & General financial economist Andrew Clare thinks there's a global recovery underway and adds: "The UK economy gives good reason to be optimistic about the future."

Separately, Churchill group managing director John O'Roarke believes the stock market has now hit rock bottom.

He puts the FTSE floor somewhere between 4,000 and 4,200. It closed at 4,426.8 on Monday.

If it stays at similar levels, it will add weight to another of O'Roarke's beliefs that the current insurance market cycle will be longer and harder than in the past.

Even if we are beginning to see signs for optimism, low investment returns will keep up pressure on insurers to make money from underwriting.

And that means higher rates.

Away from the headlines about solvency fears at the household name insurers, a number of quoted Lloyd's operators have been doing rather well in recent weeks.

Wellington, SVB and Cox have all made impressive gains over the summer and remain untainted by worries affecting the composites.

Some canny investors haven't been slow to spot opportunities.

Rostrum, which already has big chunks of Kiln, BRIT, Amlin and SVB, strengthened its holding at Chaucer by buying into its £39m fundraising.

Among the brokers, Aon's bounceback reflects the news that it had resolved all the queries of the US regulator, the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Rival Marsh failed in its bid to seize the advantage by snapping up reinsurance broker Benfield Greig.

Despite this, the move could spark consolidation elsewhere in the sector.

Tales that South African broker Alexander Forbes has been eyeing up Heath Lambert could prove telling.