NU Online News Service, July 29, 2004, 2:05 a.m. EDT

Strong interest rate spreads boosted second-quarter profits at MetLife Inc., New York.[@@]

The multiline insurer is reporting $842 million in net income for the latest quarter on $9.7 billion in revenue, up from $580 million in net income on $8.9 billion in revenue for the second quarter of 2003.

Most units did well, but MetLife says a growing difference between the rates it pays customers and the rates it earns on its own investments helped results at its retirement plan and individual annuity operations.

Group life revenue grew 8% because of strong sales and persistency, and fees for annuity investment accounts increased 64%. Variable and universal life sales were up 36%, MetLife says.