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Insurer AIA Group's first quarter new business rises 55 percent

(Reuters) - AIA Group Ltd (1299.HK), the world's third-largest life insurer by market value, posted a 55 percent rise in its new business in the first quarter, helped by a surge in sales in its key markets of China and Hong Kong.

The insurer's value of new business, which measures expected profits from new premiums and is a key gauge for growth, rose to $884 million during the quarter from $578 million a year earlier, a company statement said.

China and Hong Kong together account for about half of new business growth globally at AIA, which was originally founded in Shanghai nearly 100 years ago and was the first foreign insurer to be granted a license in China.

(Reporting by Ambar Warrick and Sumeet Chatterjee; Editing by Savio D'Souza)