NU Online News Service, Jan. 28, 2004, 5:58 p.m. EST – The stock market rebound helped push up profits at the life and investment operations of Hartford Financial Services Group Inc., Hartford.[@@]

Tax headaches and regulatory uncertainty cut profits on corporate-owned life insurance 17% in the fourth quarter of 2003, but profits for all other life and investment lines grew more than 10%.

Hartford is not yet combining results from the group benefits business it acquired from CNA Financial Corp., Chicago, with the results for its own group benefits business. But its own benefits business reports its profits increased to $41 million for the fourth quarter of 2003, up 14% from the total for the fourth quarter of 2002.

Many consumers are continuing to react to the 2000-2002 stock market slump by flocking to individual life products that limit their exposure to investment risk. An unusually low mortality rate and the revival in demand for universal life and whole life products helped increase individual life profits 21%, to $41 million.

Despite consumers’ grim memories of the stock slump, stocks did well in the fourth quarter, and that helped increase profits on individual annuities and other investment products 46%, to $142 million.

Overall life profits increased 38%, to $230 million.

Hartford as a whole is reporting $454 million in net income for the latest quarter on $4.8 billion in revenue, up from $258 million in net income on $4.3 billion in revenue for the fourth quarter of 2002.