Continued price cuts for commercial lines will more than offset any price increases for personal lines and contribute to an overall softer market, a new from Standard & Poor's Ratings Services finds.

The report "The Data Suggest That U.S. Property/Casualty Market Conditions Should Stay Tough until At Least 2011," looks at statutory data for U.S. property/casualty insurers and finds some positive indicators amidst the ongoing soft market. The numbers show that industry surplus rebounded significantly–up about 12% to $509 billion at year-end 2009 from $455 billion at year-end 2008. The report attributes this to a strong recovery in investment values, a benign hurricane season, and insurers' previous actions to increase cash holdings by reducing dividends and buying back shares.

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