May 2, 2018 / 9:31 PM / 6 months ago

UPDATE 1-Manulife earnings rise 18 pct on strong Asia demand

(Adds details on Q1 earnings)

May 2 (Reuters) - Manulife Financial Corp reported an 18.3 percent jump in first-quarter earnings on Wednesday as Canada’s largest insurer gained from robust demand in Asia.

Canadian insurance companies are expanding rapidly in Asia, selling products to a growing middle class. The strategy is helping the firms drive growth and diversify from domestic markets where competition is intense.

Manulife has benefited from a partnership with Singapore’s DBS Group, agreed in 2015, through which it sells its products through the lender’s Asian branch network.

The company said its total core earnings rose to C$1.3 billion ($1.01 billion), or 64 Canadian cents per share, in the quarter ended March 31, from C$1.1 billion, or 53 Canadian cents, a year earlier.

Core earnings from the company’s Asia division rose 19.6 pct to C$427 million in the quarter.

$1 = 1.29 Canadian dollars Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri and Mrinalini Krothapalli in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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