* Kinetic cuts insurance loss forecast to $4 bln from $25
* JP Morgan sees buying opportunity for insurer stocks
* Fitch says Matthew no great challenge for Florida insurers
(Recasts with new forecast, updates JP Morgan, adds Fitch)
By Carolyn Cohn and Noor Zainab Hussain
LONDON, Oct 7 A catastrophe modelling firm
slashed its estimate for insurance losses from Hurricane Matthew
on Friday, as the storm skirted Florida but failed to make
Kinetic Analysis had estimated the insured losses on
Thursday at $25 billion, but cut its forecast to $4 billion on
Friday morning, a spokesman told Reuters by telephone.
Matthew has been threatening the first direct hit on the
United States in more than a decade, and was shaping up to be
the second costliest U.S. hurricane on record for insurers,
according to initial industry estimates.
But industry participants said the insurance impact remained
hard to gauge.
"People are looking at this literally every minute and
working overnight on it," one trader said.
Hurricane Matthew killed more than 800 people and left tens
of thousands homeless in its rampage through Haiti, the poorest
country in the Americas, earlier this week before lashing
Florida with high winds on Friday and rolling northward up the
U.S. Atlantic coast.
"Based on the storm's current trajectory and strength, the
catastrophic impact from Matthew appears to be less than feared
24 hours ago and we would begin to buy P&C (property & casualty)
insurers on the back of yesterday's sell-off," JP Morgan
analysts said in a client note.
A $25 billion loss would have made Matthew the second most
costly hurricane in U.S. history behind Katrina in 2005, JP
Morgan's analysts wrote late Thursday.
Other estimates had come in at losses of $20-30 billion.
The ratings agency Fitch said on Friday that Hurricane
Matthew was not likely to present a major capital challenge to
insurance underwriters in Florida and other southeastern U.S.
Shares in Heritage Insurance Holdings bounced after
it gave a preliminary estimate on Friday of a loss of $500
million from the hurricane, "well within" its $1.9 billion
catastrophe reinsurance cover.
The financial information firm S&P Global said late on
Thursday that the hurricane represented a "real test" of
reinsurers' exposure, but that it was unlikely to affect their
ratings due to the reinsurers' strong capital buffers.
($1 = 0.8093 pounds)
(Additional reporting by Jonathan Gould; Editing by Simon
Jessop and Mark Potter)