NU Online News Service, July 30, 2004, 4:45 p.m. EDT

Analysts at Moody’s Investors Service, Tokyo, are feeling more optimistic about 3 large Japanese life insurers.[@@]

The agency says has placed the Caa2 insurance financial strength rating of Asahi Mutual Life Insurance Company, Tokyo, on review for possible upgrade.

The company seems to be doing a good job of restructuring its operations and stabilizing the performance of its investment portfolio, Moody’s says.

The agency also has changed the rating outlook for Sumitomo Mutual Life Insurance Company, Osaka, and Mitsui Life Insurance Company, Tokyo, to positive, from negative.

Sumitomo has a Ba1 insurance financial strength rating and Mitsui has a Ba3 financial strength rating.

Capital levels at both companies are relatively low for insurers with their ratings, but both companies have strengthened their operations, and Sumitomo has reduced its vulnerability to investment market fluctuations, Moody’s says.