WRAPUP 1-Manulife, Sun Life post net earnings gains as markets stabilize

Thu Aug 8, 2013 2:16pm EDT
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* Sun Life shares rise as profit tops estimates, but firm cuts target

* Manulife slips after earnings miss

* Shares of both insurers up sharply over last 12 months

* Both companies working to reduce market exposure

By Cameron French

TORONTO, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Manulife Financial Corp shares slid on Thursday, while rival Sun Life Financial Inc rose after mixed results that reflected more stable markets and showed the fruits of their recent attempts to remove risk from their balance sheets.

The two companies, Canada's No. 1 and No. 3 life insurers, have spent the last several quarters reducing their exposure to stock and bond markets, after falling stock prices and bond yields led to heavy losses following the 2008 financial crisis.

That reduced exposure, combined with rising debt yields, has pushed the shares of both companies up sharply.

Manulife posted a second-quarter profit compared with a year-before loss. It took a C$242 million ($233.48 million) markets-related charge, well down from the C$996 million charge in the year-ago period.   Continued...