Despite consistent indications of falling property-casualty insurance prices, Morgan Stanley research analysts argue that an expanded focus on returns means a brighter industry outlook for 2006.

Morgan Stanley's research note was published just after MarketScout released its monthly barometer showing that a composite rate index for December 2005 dipped 6 percent for commercial lines.

"With the exception of January and February, rates decreased every month during 2005," the Dallas-based electronic insurance exchange reported. "Our forecast is for further softening in early 2006." Workers' compensation pricing showed the sharpest decline at 9 percent.

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