NU Online News Service, May 5, 1:55 p.m. EST

Evan Greenberg, chairman and chief executive officer of ACE Ltd. says the company is seeing rates flat-to-positive in some lines, with competition in commodity-type business.

Commenting on the market cycle direction during a conference call on earnings, Greenberg says, “We’re likely bouncing around the bottom right now, and I think that we will remain where we will be for a while.”

The company is “getting better rate on non-commodity” business. On commodity-type business, he says, competition “remains fierce.”

Catastrophe losses impacted ACE first-quarter earnings, driving it down 66 percent. Greenberg says losses remained within expectations.

ACE reports net income of $250 million for the first quarter compared to $755 million for the same period in 2010.

The company reports net after-tax catastrophe losses for the quarter of $443 million.

Net premiums written dropped close to 4 percent, or $125 million, to $3.45 billion and the company’s property and casualty combined ratio for the first quarter stood at 105 compared with 92.8 for the same period last year.

Greenberg says there will need to be more pain in the way of losses before a real market turn is felt and “it will be the next couple of years before you dug that hole deep enough.”

In catastrophe-affected areas, rates are seeing increases on business where decreases were once the order, according to executives during the call.

“I’m not surprised that there is as much [increase] as we are seeing,” says Greenberg, adding that the company finds it encouraging.