Lincoln National Corp. and MetLife Inc. led insurers lower after investors bet they’ll struggle to maintain bond-portfolio income as the Federal Reserve said its benchmark interest rate will stay low until at least late 2014.
MetLife, the largest U.S. life insurer, dropped 96 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $35.95 at 4:01 p.m. in New York trading. Radnor, Pennsylvania-based Lincoln slipped 4 percent.
The Federal Open Market Committee today extended an earlier pledge to keep rates low until at least the middle of 2013. U.S. life insurers hold more than $2 trillion in bonds including corporate debt, municipal securities and mortgage-linked assets. The companies use the holdings to cover policyholder obligations and generate profits.
Results at life insurers will “be pressured in 2012 due to low interest rates, increased hedging costs and ongoing market volatility,” Fitch Ratings said in a statement on the industry last month.