Among the premarket stories for Thursday, Oct. 15, from AP Financial News:

¿ An improving financial outlook for property and casualty insurers means they may not be able to raise rates on customers and may have to drop prices, said Keefe Bruyette & Woods, downgrading shares of Travelers Cos. and two other insurers.

¿ Shares of Acorda Therapeutics Inc. skyrocketed in premarket trading Thursday after a Food and Drug Administration panel released a positive review of Acorda's drug candidate Fampridine-SR, increasing the chances the multiple sclerosis treatment will be approved for sale.

¿ Shares of Host Hotels & Resorts Inc. dropped Thursday after a Baird analyst cut his rating on the lodging real estate investment trust, cautioning investors that a recovery in the hotel sector is further away than a recent rally in Host's shares suggests.

¿ Bill Barrett Corp. shares are positioned to grow, said an analyst Thursday as he upgraded the natural gas and oil producer's stock.

¿ Chicago Bridge & Iron Company NV, an energy-infrastructure construction company, will benefit from a natural gas project in Australia, could potentially increase its earnings on contract awards and its share value has room to grow, an analyst said Thursday.

¿ An analyst downgraded Granite Construction Inc. Thursday, saying the contractor and producer of construction materials could feel the impact of reduced spending on public works in the next six months to a year.
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