Prudential profit rises by 34pc

Britain's largest insurer Prudential reported a better-than-expected 34 per cent rise in first-half operating profit, helped by improving investment returns amid a broader market recovery.

Prudential's operating profit was £1.68bn for the first six months of the year, based on European Embedded Value (EEV) accounting standards, higher than a consensus forecast of £1.54bn and better than the £1.25bn recorded a year earlier.

The company reported a 40 per cent rise in net profit of £968m based on International Financial Reporting Standards, beating a consensus forecast of £724m, and better than £688m it posted a year earlier.

It also said that its bungled bid to buy AIG's Asian arm AIA will cost £377m, down from an initial estimate of £450m, thanks to reduced advisory fees and currency fluctuations.

The firm raised its half-year dividend by five per cent to 6.61 pence per share.