The week's winners:

  • SVB Holdings up 53.7%
  • Atrium Underwriting up 15.3%
  • Cox Insurance up 14%

    The week's losers:

  • Aon down 10.7%
  • Kiln down 8.9%
  • Culver down 5.3%

    Insurers were among the losers as Monday's plane crash in New York pushed stockmarket values down. The news cut prices across all sectors, but fell particularly hard on previously recovering insurers.

    It had already been a dramatic week on the markets as insurers made startling gains and analysts saw signs of a sea change among investors.

    SVB Holdings was the star of the week. Its share price rocketed by more than 50% by the close of business on Friday. The shares had been worth less than 34p, but spurted on Wednesday and Thursday last week and broke through the 50p barrier.

    Standard & Poor's analyst Kevin Willis said the rising share price could reflect a positive reaction among investors to the company's plans to make directorship changes and write new business in 2002. SVB's share price rose in October after it announced it was in ultimately fruitless talks that could possibly lead to it being bought out. The market continues to be rife with rumours about possible deals.

    But SVB was not the only one to do well. Fellow Lloyd's insurers Atrium Underwriting and Cox Insurance Holdings also saw prices shoot up.

    Lloyd's insurers in particular have been the subject of bad news for months. Disappoint-ing results were followed by the 11 September crisis and revelations of huge losses. But investors may have realised insurers stand to make handsome profits if they can capitalise on rapidly hardening rates.

    Willis said: "The bad news of the World Trade Centre's impact on the market has begun to be replaced with the more positive aspects about the benefits of improving premiums. Syndicates are putting business plans together now for the next year of account."

    The FTSE all-share insurance index also recorded a steep rise, partly as a result of SVB's increasing fortunes and the increasing prices being paid for shares in Royal & SunAlliance (R&SA), following the company's third-quarter results last week.

    However, there is always an alternative view. Commerz-bank was advising investors to be cautious on the possibility that next year would not be as good as hoped. SVB finished trading on Monday down 7.7% as the effect of the New York crash took hold.

    CGNU and R&SA also fell in value. In New York, US insurance giant AIG was doing well under the circumstances. It was down by just 0.99% at midday Monday.

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