UPDATE 1-Norway insurer Gjensidige posts best-ever quarterly earnings
* Q2 pre-tax profit NOK 1.75 bln vs forecast NOK 1.39 bln
* Combined ratio drops to 81.2 vs forecast 86.8 (Adds details of earnings performance, executive comment)
OSLO, July 15 (Reuters) - Gjensidige, Norway's biggest non-life insurer, on Tuesday reported a pre-tax profit for the second quarter that jumped nearly two-thirds, hitting a record level, and said its finances remained strong going forward.
A low number of large losses and growth in insurance premiums contributed to second-quarter pre-tax profit rising 62 percent to 1.75 billion crowns ($283.23 million) from 1.08 billion crowns in the same period a year earlier.
That easily beat expectations for earnings of 1.39 billion crowns in a Reuters poll of analysts.
"This is the best underwriting result we have ever delivered in a single quarter," Chief Executive Helge Leiro Baastad said in a statement.
"The result is affected by a benign weather situation in the period, but also reflects continued good competitive strength and solid operations."
Gjensidige's combined ratio, which measures general insurance costs and claims as a percentage of premiums, dropped to 81.2, against expectations for 86.8 in a Reuters poll, from 90.3 in the year-ago period.
"The board considers the group's capital situation and financial strength to be good," the firm said.
Shares in Gjensidige have risen 18.6 percent over the past year, lagging the Oslo benchmark index's rise of 23.8 percent over the same period.
($1 = 6.1788 Norwegian Kroner) (Reporting by Gwladys Fouche; Editing by Ole Petter Skonnord and Kenneth Maxwell)