WRAPUP 1-Canadian insurers Manulife, Sun Life post higher Q4 earnings

TORONTO, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Two of Canada's biggest insurers, Manulife Financial Corp and Sun Life International, on Wednesday reported higher fourth-quarter earnings, helped by growth in Asian markets.

Canadian insurance companies have been expanding rapidly in Asia, selling to the region's growing middle class. The strategy is helping them drive growth and diversify from their domestic markets, where competition is intense.

Canada's biggest insurer, Manulife, reported earnings per share, excluding one-off items, of C$0.65, compared with C$0.59 a year ago, ahead of the average analyst forecast of C$0.66, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Sun Life Financial reported earnings per share, excluding one-off items, of C$1.19, compared with C$1.05 a year ago and ahead of the average analyst forecast of C$1.15, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

Sun Life said net income, before one-off items, grew by 26 percent in Asia to C$140 million ($106 million). It cited sales growth in the Philippines, India and Hong Kong.

Manulife said earnings from Asia increased by 23 percent to C$459 million during the quarter.

($1 = 1.3252 Canadian dollars) (Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Leslie Adler)