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BOSTON (AP) — Shares of MetLife Inc. surged on Friday after the nation’s largest life insurer reported second-quarter earnings that exceeded analysts’ expectations.

THE SPARK: MetLife said after markets closed Thursday that its second-quarter net income available to common shareholders fell 21 percent, as claims and expenses rose due to storms and the disasters in Japan. But the company’s operating earnings of $1.24 per share easily beat Wall Street’s consensus forecast for $1.13 per share, according to FactSet. MetLife collected higher premiums, with strong sales gains for products such as variable annuities. MetLife also reported a 25 percent jump in international sales, largely due to its Nov. 1 acquisition of Alico, the international life insurance company bought from bailed-out rival American International Group Inc.

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