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Shares in FTSE 250 insurer Beazley jumped 9 per cent on Friday morning, with better than expected profits putting the company on track for its best day of trading in more than eight years.

The company reported pre-tax profit of $293.2m for 2016, a 3 per cent increase in contrast to the 8.5 per cent fall predicted by analysts.

Beazley also announced a higher than expected special dividend of 10p per share on top of its 9.9p per share full-year dividend.

At publication time, shares in the group were up 9 per cent to 445p.

Eamonn Flanagan, analyst at Shore Capital, said the “terrific” results had “set the bar high for its peers amongst the quoted Lloyd’s insurers”.

Andrew Horton, Beazley chief executive, said:

Beazley’s performance in 2016 was good across the board. Our increased profits were driven by a higher investment return, but the bedrock of our success remains our underwriting performance, which generated a combined ratio of 89 per cent in 2016 despite highly copetitive conditions in many of our markets.

Overall premium growth doubled to 6 per cent and we were able to develop a number of growth opportunities, particularly in the US, that enabled us to offset areas where market conditions dictated that we cut back.

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