NU Online News Service, Feb. 25, 2:22 p.m. – Weiss Ratings Inc., Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., says the combined profits of U.S. life and health insurers fell to $8 billion for the first three quarters of 2001, from $19 billion for the comparable period in 2000.

Weiss is blaming $5.9 billion of the drop on the poor performance of stocks and low-grade bonds in life and health insurance company investment portfolios.

The companies reported $2.4 billion in capital gains for the first three quarters of 2000, but $3.3 billion in capital losses for the first three quarters of 2001, Weiss says.

The decline in profits reduced the industry’s average return on assets to 0.28%, from 0.65%, according to Weiss.