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Early days for Aviva recovery

Insurance giant Aviva revealed a £10 million hit from last week's storms as it recorded a fall in UK sales in the third quarter and admitted there remains "much to do" under its recovery plan.

Latest trading figures showed worldwide new business was up 2% to £171 million in the third quarter, but fell 14% to £91 million in the UK.

Aviva added that losses from the St Jude's storm, which came after the third quarter, were expected to be in the region of £10 million.

Rival RSA Insurance has said the storms would cost it £65 million after it wrought damage across the UK and northern Europe.

The Association of British Insurers said yesterday that total payouts of around £130 million were expected as a result of the storm.

Aviva's third quarter UK sales suffered due to reductions in the general insurance business across the market and tight competition on pensions.

Chief executive Mark Wilson hailed a 14% increase in new business in the year-to-date for the overall group, citing growth in Turkey, Poland and Asia, while admitting it was still addressing depressed demand in Italy and Spain.

But he reiterated previous guidance that this growth would "moderate" in the final quarter of the year when compared with a strong period at the end of 2012.

Mr Wilson said: "The turnaround at Aviva is still in its infancy; we have made progress this year and whilst there is room for optimism there remains much to do."

In September, Aviva ditched the head of its UK and Ireland general insurance business after just a year in the job in the latest stage of an overhaul under Mr Wilson.

The chief executive took charge in January after the departure of predecessor Andrew Moss in the wake of a humiliating shareholder revolt.

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