May 1 (Reuters) – Manulife Financial Corp, Canada’s biggest insurer, reported an 18.8 percent increase in core earnings on Wednesday, boosted by strong growth in Asia.

The company’s core earnings rose to C$1.55 billion ($1.15 billion), or 76 Canadian cents per share, in the first quarter ended March 31, from C$1.30 billion, or 64 Canadian cents per share, a year earlier.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 70 Canadian cents per share, according to IBES data from Refinitiv, although it was not immediately clear if the numbers were comparable. ($1 = C$1.34) (Reporting By Aparajita Saxena and Uday Sampath in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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