NEW YORK (AP) — Insurer MetLife Inc. on Wednesday posted a profit in the first quarter as business grew in the U.S. and abroad.

MetLife reported net income of $956 million, or 87 cents a share, in the January-March period. That compares with a net loss of $174 million, or 16 cents a share, in the first quarter of 2012. The earnings in the latest quarter take into account $410 million in after-tax losses on derivatives. Insurance companies often use those financial instruments to hedge against fluctuations in interest rates and foreign-exchange rates.

Operating earnings were up 12 percent to $1.6 billion, or $1.48 per share.

New York-based MetLife has said it expects its income to shrink this year as low interest rates hurt its business. Interest rates have hurt insurance companies, because they often make it difficult to pay customers the rates guaranteed in contracts such as annuities, which the companies sold in rosier economic times.

MetLife's total first-quarter revenue rose 2.4 percent to $17 billion.

Analysts expected earnings of $1.30 a share on revenue of $17.03 billion.

The company said all three of its business regions — the Americas, Asia and Europe-Middle East-Africa posted growth that contributed to earnings.

MetLife ceased being a bank holding company early this year after it sold its bank deposits. As a bank holding company since 2001, MetLife faced stricter regulation after the 2008 financial crisis and was subject to the Federal Reserve's "stress tests," which gauge how banks would weather another severe economic downturn.

MetLife failed those tests, and as a result the Fed didn't allow the company to increase its dividend or buy back shares.

As part of narrowing its focus on its insurance business, MetLife also has sold off other non-core businesses like mortgage servicing.

MetLife shares fell 59 cents to end at $38.40 amid a broader market sell-off.