The week's winners
SVB up 11.7%
Amlin up 8.4%

The week's losers
Zurich Financial Services down 25.3%
Aon down 13.7%
Royal & SunAlliance (R&SA) down 12.1%

Insurance stocks were …

The week's winners
SVB up 11.7%
Amlin up 8.4%

The week's losers
Zurich Financial Services down 25.3%
Aon down 13.7%
Royal & SunAlliance (R&SA) down 12.1%

Insurance stocks were among the biggest losers as stock markets were hammered by falling investor confidence.

In London on Monday the FTSE 100 dropped below 4,000 for the first time since December 1996, after faltering confidence in the US sent the dollar and markets sliding.

Fears over life companies' solvency continued to undermine the insurance sector over the week.

Munich Re's announcement last Thursday that it was raising its provisions for 11 September by $500m (£318m) could not have come at a worse time.

Later that afternoon, Zurich Financial Services was down 12.2%, R&SA was down 9.13%, Fortis down 7.01%, Aviva was down 7.47% and Allianz was down 6.38%.

But the bottom was not yet in sight.

The FTSE 100 plunged to 3,994 on Monday and the promise of a small rally led by Aviva didn't last, even though Aviva bounced back 8% on Tuesday morning, helped by a distribution deal in Italy with Banca Popolare Commercia e Industria.

Over in Frankfurt, Munich Re was still in decline and London's only glimmer of hope in the otherwise unremitting gloom was among smaller players.

SVB increased its distribution business forecasts, saying it would bring in £80m gross written premium income rather than £60m.

AXA was downgraded by Morgan Stanley. Analysts fear the company desperately needs to raise capital.

Zurich Financial Services (ZFS) tried to assure investors it wasn't overexposed to equities after its stock fell 19% on Thursday. But it wasn't enough to stop it falling to a 52-week low of £80 on Monday.