PARIS May 6 Europe's No. 2 insurer, AXA , reported on Tuesday a 1 percent decline in first-quarter sales to 28.5 billion euros ($39.55 billion), blaming the strength of the euro against several Asian currencies and the US dollar.
AXA said it expected to increase both life and property and casualty new business volume growth compared to last year.
The company's new-business margin in life insurance rose to 33 percent from 32 percent, helped by higher interest rates that lifted profitability.
While property and casualty revenue rose 3 percent in the quarter on a like-for-like basis, life insurance gained 1 percent, while asset management was up 2 percent, AXA said.
AXA is seeking to lift profitability through price hikes, higher-margin products and 1.7 billion euros in cost cuts by 2015.
($1 = 0.7205 Euros) (Reporting by Maya Nikolaeva, editing by Astrid Wendlandt)