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Sun Life Financial improves fourth-quarter results helps by premiums, deposits

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TORONTO - Sun Life Financial Inc. (TSX:SLF) improved its results in the fourth quarter, helped by an increase in premiums and deposits.

The Toronto-based insurer reported Wednesday that quarterly net income from continuing operations grew to $571 million or 93 cents per share, compared with $284 million or 47 cents per share in the same period a year ago.

Operating income nearly doubled to $642 million or $1.05 per share, which came in above analyst of estimates of 68 cents per share, according to Thomson Reuters.

A year ago, operating income was $333 million or 56 cents per share.

"Strong sales drove a 15 per cent increase in premiums and deposits in 2013 and, along with rising markets, lifted assets under management by $107 billion to $640 billion," president and CEO Dean Connor said in a release.

"Our results in the fourth quarter also benefited from management action to reduce financing costs for our closed block of life insurance in the U.S., which includes a $290-million gain from the restructuring of an internal reinsurance arrangement."

In Canada, Sun Life earned $154 million for the quarter compared with $143 million a year ago.

Sun Life U.S. earned US$301 million for the quarter compared with a profit of $202 million a year ago.

MFS Investment Management, Sun Life's wealth management business, earned US$76 million, up from $47 million a year ago. The division also hit a record for assets under management of $413 billion, help by sales and market improvement.

Sun Life Asia earned $42 million, falling from $50 million in the third quarter of 2012.

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