China Life Profit Drop Narrows as Virus Hits Investment Returns

China Life Insurance Co., the nation’s largest life insurer, said first-half profit fell 19% as the coronavirus pandemic hit investment returns and policy sales.

Net income dropped to 30.5 billion yuan ($4.4 billion), the Beijing-based company said in a statement Wednesday. That narrowed from the first-quarter slump amid nationwide lockdowns.

Chairman Wang Bin’s renewed focus on higher-value, protection-type policies since 2018 has strengthened the resilience of the insurer’s business amid the pandemic. The nation’s relative success in containing the outbreak is also helping insurers, with sales growth rebounding in the second quarter. Industry-wide premiums couldexpand by at least 10% in the third quarter as a stock rally aids customers’ purchasing power, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Steven Lam.

Investment income rose 9.6% to 72.7 billion, according to the statement. The company recorded 8.6 billion yuan in fair-value gains on investments, compared to 13 billion yuan of gains a year earlier. The benchmark Shanghai Stock Exchange Composite Index rebounded 9% in the second quarter as lockdowns were lifted, reversing a 10% drop in the preceding three months.

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+1% Change in MSCI World Index of global stocks since Wuhan lockdown, Jan. 23

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5.​4% Global GDP Tracker (annualized), July

More highlights from the first-half results:

  • Revenue jumped 13% to 504.4 billion yuan

— With assistance by Sharon Chen, and Dingmin Zhang

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