NU Online News Service, Nov. 2, 3:14 p.m. EST

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CNA Financial Corporation reported third-quarter net income of$263 million, a $594 million improvement over a net loss of $331million for the period last year.

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The Chicago-based commercial insurer credited the improvement tolower catastrophe losses, higher net investment income, and a $61million after-tax gain from a settlement resolving litigationrelated to the placement of personal accident reinsurance. But anunfavorable change in current accident-year underwriting resultsexcluding catastrophes partially offset the favorable factors,according to the company.

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For the first nine months of 2009, CNA reported net income of$173 million, a 368 percent increase over the $37 million netincome figure reported for the same period in 2008.

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For its property and casualty operations in the third quarter,CNA reported gross written premiums of $1.9 billion, down from $2.1billion in the 2008 third quarter. Standard lines dropped to $711million from $804 million, and specialty lines dropped to $1.2billion from $1.3 billion.

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Net written premiums in the quarter decreased $91 million forstandard lines to $632 million from $723 million. The companyblamed the decrease on current economic conditions.

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Net written premiums for specialty lines in the quarterdecreased $30 million to $845 million from $875 million. "Thisdecrease reflects lower net written premiums for CNA Global,partially offset by growth in U.S. specialty lines," CNA said.

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Strong rate increases in the financial institutions anddirectors and officers lines drove the modest growth in U.S.specialty, the company said.

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The 2009 third-quarter combined ratio improved to 101 from 107in 2008.

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Thomas F. Motamed, chairman and chief executive officer of CNA,said, "In our core property and casualty operations, we are pleasedwith the continued strong performance of the specialty linessegment. We continue to focus on improving profitability in thestandard lines segment. Rate trends are encouraging across ourportfolio. However, the recession has reduced exposures, puttingdownward pressure on premium volume."

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On the investment side, the company reported net realizedinvestment losses of $67 million for the 2009 third quartercompared to net realized losses of $423 million a year ago. CNAsaid decreased other-than-temporary impairment losses led to theimprovement.

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