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AIA Group posts 42 pct increase in first half new business

July 28 (Reuters) - AIA Group Ltd, the world's third-largest life insurer by market value, posted a 42 percent surge in new business for the first half of the year, helped by robust sales growth in its main markets Hong Kong and China.

AIA's value of new business, which measures expected profits from new premiums and is a key gauge for future growth, surged to $1.75 billion in its half-yearly period that ends in May, up from $1.26 billion a year ago, the company said.

The insurer's operating profit after tax rose 16 percent in the first half to $2.26 billion, up from $1.96 billion in the year-ago period, AIA said in a statement to the stock exchange on Friday. (Reporting by Susan Mathew in Bengaluru and Sumeet Chatterjee in Hong Kong; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)