Lloyd's of London 2006 Pretax Profit Up Sharply

The Lloyd's of London insurance market said on Thursday that it made a pretax profit of 3.7 billion pounds ($7.27 billion) in 2006, thanks to high prices and low catastrophe claims.

Lloyd's, which made a pretax loss of 103 million pounds in 2005 after being hit by huge claims from the string of major hurricanes that hit the United States and Caribbean, swung back to profit due to buoyant market conditions after the storms.

"2006 was an excellent year for Lloyd's and the market has performed well. During the year, we benefited from strong underwriting conditions and an exceptionally low level of catastrophes," Lloyd's Chairman Peter Levene said in a statement.

Lloyd's, the world's oldest and largest insurance market, said it would be unrealistic however to expect such low levels of claims this year and that the market must concentrate on its focus of underwriting for profit.

The market said it saw its central assets, which are crucial to underpinning its credit ratings, rise by nearly 15% in 2006 to 1.5 billion pounds.