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Munich Re first quarter net profit down 23 percent on higher claims

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FILE PHOTO: The company logo of German reinsurer Munich Re is seen before the company's annual news conference in Munich, Germany, March 16, 2016. REUTERS/Michaela Rehle
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MUNICH (Reuters) - German reinsurer Munich Re on Wednesday reported a 23 percent decline in net profit in the first quarter as a result of higher claims, but it left its full-year profit guidance unchanged.

Net profit in the quarter was 633 million euros (543 million pounds), above expectations of 613 million euros in a Reuters poll. That is down from 827 million euros a year ago, a period that was free of major claims.

The company maintained its full-year profit target of around 2.5 billion euros.

Munich Re and the insurance industry have been trying to bounce back from large natural catastrophes in 2017 and 2018. Reinsurers have been under pressure in recent years from falling prices amid intense competition.

"Prices for reinsurance coverage have continued to rise following the high losses in previous years," said Chief Financial Officer Christoph Jurecka.

Munich Re's combined ratio, a measure of profitability, was 97.9 percent in the first quarter for its reinsurance business, worse than 88.6 percent a year ago. But Munich Re said it was on track to meet its target of 98 percent for the full year.

(Reporting by Tom Sims; Editing by Michelle Martin)