(Corrects paragraph 2 to show figures are in U.S. dollars, not Australian dollars, removes currency conversion) Aug 15 () – Australia’s QBE Insurance Group said on Thursday its first-half cash profit rose 35%, helped by lower claims losses and robust investment return. The country’s third-largest listed insurer’s cash profit for the six months ended June 30 rose to $520 million from $385 million a year ago. That sent the company’s shares as high as 3% to A$12.44 in early trade, while the broader market was nearly 2% lower. QBE is in recovery mode after a weak spell, having posted a record annual loss in 2017 as hurricanes swept the Atlantic and earthquakes rattled Mexico. It had ended fiscal 2018 with a better than expected profit. The insurer’s combined operating ratio (COR) – claims payouts against premium income – came in at 95.2%, slightly better than the mid-point of its projected range of 94.5%-96.5% for fiscal 2019. QBE reaffirmed its full-year forecast on Thursday and declared an interim dividend of 25 Australian cents a share, higher than the 22 cents interim payout of last year. (Reporting By Rushil Dutta in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Muralikumar Anantharaman)Our Standards:The Thomson Trust Principles.