August 15, 2019 / 1:02 AM / 2 days ago

CORRECTED-UPDATE 1-Australia's QBE Insurance posts 35% jump in H1 profit, retains forecast (Aug. 15)

(Corrects paragraph 2 to show figures are in U.S. dollars, not Australian dollars, removes currency conversion)

Aug 15 (Reuters) - Australia’s QBE Insurance Group said on Thursday its first-half cash profit rose 35%, helped by lower claims losses and robust investment return.

The country’s third-largest listed insurer’s cash profit for the six months ended June 30 rose to $520 million from $385 million a year ago.

That sent the company’s shares as high as 3% to A$12.44 in early trade, while the broader market was nearly 2% lower.

QBE is in recovery mode after a weak spell, having posted a record annual loss in 2017 as hurricanes swept the Atlantic and earthquakes rattled Mexico.

It had ended fiscal 2018 with a better than expected profit.

The insurer’s combined operating ratio (COR) - claims payouts against premium income - came in at 95.2%, slightly better than the mid-point of its projected range of 94.5%-96.5% for fiscal 2019.

QBE reaffirmed its full-year forecast on Thursday and declared an interim dividend of 25 Australian cents a share, higher than the 22 cents interim payout of last year. (Reporting By Rushil Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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