LONDON (Reuters) – A test case brought by Britain’s markets regulator against some of the world’s biggest insurers will jump straight to the Supreme Court after London’s High Court agreed to a fast-track appeal on Friday.

Although expedited, the appeal will further delay payouts on disputed claims for thousands of struggling businesses battered by the coronavirus pandemic, hoping for a speedy payout after a judgment delivered two weeks ago.

At a webcast hearing on Friday, judges allowed the case to leapfrog to the UK’s highest court, which is expected to consider it by year-end.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) brought a case against eight insurers in June to clarify whether 21 policy wordings, affecting potentially 700 types of policies, 60 insurers, 370,000 policyholders and billions in insurance claims, covered disruption and government-ordered closures to curb the virus.

Judges examined policy wordings that cover business interruption when insured premises cannot be accessed because of public authority restrictions, in the event of a notifiable disease within a specified radius — and hybrid wordings.

The FCA said the judgment ruled mainly in the favour of policyholders, although some insurers were more circumspect. Subsequent negotiations over which policies should now pay out hit a stumbling block and collapsed on Wednesday.

The FCA brought the case against QBE QBE.AX, Hiscox HSX.L, RSA RSA.L, MS Amlin [MITSID.UL], Ecclesiastical [ELL.UL], Argenta HNRGn.DE, Zurich ZURN.S and Arch ACGL.O.

Zurich and Ecclesiastical, which previously said the court found in their favour, are not seeking a further appeal. QIC Europe QINS.QA, part of Qatar Insurance Company, failed in an 11th-hour bid to join the proceedings.

Sonia Campbell, a partner at law firm Mishcon de Reya who is leading one of two action groups of policyholders, said the decision by

Happy Thursday and welcome back to On The Money. I’m Sylvan Lane, and here’s your nightly guide to everything affecting your bills, bank account and bottom line.

Mitch McConnell, John Barrasso, John Thune are posing for a picture: On The Money: GOP cool to White House's $1.6T coronavirus price tag | Company layoffs mount as pandemic heads into fall | Initial jobless claims drop to 837,000

© Greg Nash
On The Money: GOP cool to White House’s $1.6T coronavirus price tag | Company layoffs mount as pandemic heads into fall | Initial jobless claims drop to 837,000

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THE BIG DEAL-GOP cool to White House’s $1.6T coronavirus price tag: The latest White House coronavirus relief offer with a $1.6 trillion price tag received a cool reception Thursday from congressional Republicans.

The new offer from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, which exceeds the original $1.1 trillion Senate GOP package and the $1.5 trillion the White House signaled it could support last month, was made as part of renewed talks this week with Democratic leaders.

But Republicans, including influential chairmen and members of leadership, are warning they can’t support it, creating another potential obstacle for negotiators trying to strike a deal on emergency COVID-19 aid after nearly two months of stalemate.

  • Asked about the prospect of supporting a $1.6 trillion measure, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was direct: “No.”
  • Rep. Kevin Brady of Texas, the top Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, also appeared unsure he could back a bill with that dollar amount and criticized the inclusion of a $400 per week federal unemployment benefit.
  • “It depends on what’s in it. That’s more than I would want to spend, but I do think it’s important

Global fashion retailers face a potentially harsh winter, but at least they aren’t wasting the crisis.

Shares in Swedish clothing chain

Hennes & Mauritz

HM.B 6.04%

rose 8% in morning trading Thursday after it reported good news about September sales. Revenue was 5% lower in the month compared with a year ago—a sharp recovery from the 16% year-over-year drop for the three months through August that the company announced a few weeks ago.

H&M also beat earnings expectations for the summer quarter. The business made a pretax profit of 2.4 billion Swedish krona, or roughly $260 million, while analysts had thought it would barely break even. The same thing happened at Zara-owner


ITX 2.31%

the world’s largest clothing retailer by market value, and fast-fashion chain Primark, that both reported better-than-expected summer profit.

Global clothing brands have done a good job of controlling what they could during the pandemic. Despite widespread store closures in the spring, H&M ended August with the same amount of stock that it held a year earlier. Inditex, which has an especially flexible supply chain, is carrying one-fifth less. Having stores in Asia, where the pandemic first appeared, undoubtedly gave them more insight into what was coming next than regional retailers in Europe and the U.S. “They canceled orders early on and then were cautious about new ordering. So there has been less discounting and stock levels are better than expected,” said Aneesha Sherman of brokerage Bernstein.

The crisis has handed retailers leverage with landlords too. H&M negotiated rent cuts of up to 30% in certain markets and plans to close 5% of its stores in 2021 as it reverses decades of expansion. Inditex will shrink its physical network by a more dramatic 12% over the next two years as more sales move online.


With five weeks to go before the election, President Donald Trump was back in Minnesota Wednesday to headline a GOP fundraiser in Shorewood and then hold an evening rally in Duluth.

Several dozen supporters were gathered behind barricades across from Air Force One shortly after his arrival at 4:08 p.m. on the Minnesota National Guard side of the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Among them were Minnesota Senate Republican Leader Paul Gazelka, House GOP Leader Kurt Daudt, and U.S. Senate candidate Jason Lewis.

It is Trump’s seventh visit to Minnesota since taking office, and his second to northern Minnesota since early voting started in the state on Sept. 18, when he rallied supporters in Bemidji while Democrat challenger Joe Biden met with union members in Duluth.

The focus on northern Minnesota underscores the importance of working-class voters in the region to both campaigns.

Ahead of Trump’s visit, Biden’s campaign released a list of endorsements from 45 leaders in Minnesota’s Iron Range. Biden, meanwhile, embarked on eight stop-train tour through Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The president’s foray into the state marks the first of a series of campaign stops this week by the candidates and their surrogates.

Former Second Lady Jill Biden is scheduled to campaign in Minnesota on Saturday, making her second stop in the state since her husband secured the Democratic nomination.

Eric Trump, the president’s second son, is scheduled to hold an event Thursday in Becker, Minn. And Biden’s running mate, California U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, is scheduled to address a virtual gathering of the DFL’s annual Humphrey-Mondale dinner Thursday evening.

Trump’s trip to Minnesota comes a day after a testy debate with Biden, the first of three scheduled presidential debates before the election.

Hours before leaving Washington, Trump took to Twitter to take credit for quelling the civil unrest