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Zurich Insurance profit hurt by strong dollar

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May 7 (Reuters) - Zurich Insurance Group AG reported a 6 percent decline in first-quarter business operating profit, hampered by a strong dollar and rock-bottom interest rates that flattened investment returns.

Europe's fifth biggest insurer said gross written premiums at its largest business, general insurance, fell 5 percent to $10.1 billion, but rose 5 percent on a local currency basis. (http://bit.ly/1zDCHkr)

The company, which reports in dollars, said its combined ratio deteriorated to 96.7 percent as a result, compared with 95.9 percent during the three months to March 31 a year earlier.

A ratio below 100 percent means an insurer earns more in premiums than it pays out in claims. (Reporting by Richa Naidu in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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