The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. reports income of $728 million for the first quarter, up 9% from $666 million in first quarter 2005.

Core earnings for The Hartford’s life operations were $418 million in the first quarter, up from $237 million a year earlier.

Earnings also included $45 million in individual life sales for the quarter, 15% higher than first quarter 2005, on sales of $60 million, 30% higher than the same period the previous year.

Core earnings in group benefits reached $68 million for the quarter, 15% over the prior year period. Fully insured continuing premiums for group benefits exceeded $1 billion for the first time, climbing 12% over the same period last year.

Among retail products, Hartford reported variable annuity sales and deposits of $3.1 billion, unchanged from a year earlier, with net outflows of $828 million.

Core earnings in retirement plans were $21 million, up 24% over the prior year period. Retirement plan sales and deposits were $1.6 billion, up 22%.