- Insurance company Phoenix swung to a first-half loss, owing to negative investment returns, though its operating profit improved and it nudged up its dividend.

Pre-tax losses for the six months through June amounted to £679 million, compared to a year-on-year profit of £663 million.

Phoenix pinned the red ink on adverse investment return arising on hedging positions, plus increased amortisation charges on intangible assets and higher financing costs.

Operating profit jumped 46% to £527 million and the company declared an interim dividend of 24.1p per share, up from 23.4p year-on-year.

'Phoenix has made further strong progress against our stated priorities of cash, resilience and growth,' chief executive Andy Briggs said.

'Our cash generation doubled to £872 million, we maintained a highly resilient balance sheet and we delivered 15% growth in new business long-term cash generation to £412 million.'

'We look forward to continuing to execute against our strategic priorities in the second half of the year as we build on our position as the UK's largest long-term savings and retirement business.'

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