Under-fire insurer reports 27pc rise in new business

AHEAD of a testing encounter with investors, Prudential pleased analysts by releasing a strong trading update for the five months to May.

Group sales accelerated after March to hit £1.4bn by last month, expanding at a rate of 27 per cent. New business was up 33 per cent in Asia over the period to £579m, with sales in May growing at a record rate of 38 per cent. US sales rebounded 41 per cent to £454m, although UK growth was more sluggish.

Barrie Cornes of Panmure Gordon said: “While the unusual announcement might be seen by some as an attempt to defuse criticism over the handling of the AIA deal, we welcome the clarification that the business remains on track.”

Despite the update, Prudential shares fell four per cent to 534p. One analyst thought the improving performance had already been priced in.