Strong demand helped Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. increase the size of a discretionary stock offering to $900 million, from $750 million, the company says.

The Hartford insurer says it has sold about 56 million shares at an average price of $16.03.

Hartford “intends to use the net proceeds from the program for general corporate purposes, including the possible repurchase of outstanding debt,” the company says.

Hartford, which raised $3.4 billion by selling perpetual preferred stock to the U.S. Treasury Department through the Capital Purchase Program, announced the discretionary stock issuance plan in June.

Hartford recently reported a $15 million net loss for the second quarter, but it increased revenue to $7.6 billion, up from $7.5 billion for the second quarter of 2008.

“We saw strong demand from a broad range of investors,” Hartford Chairman Ramani Ayer says in a statement. “This is an important indication that investors believe the Hartford has the strategy for building shareholder value and that we are on the path toward strengthening our long-term financial position.”

A unit of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., New York, acted as the sales agent for the offering.