This quarter was characterized by relatively benign catastrophe activity and our estimates of aggregate Cat losses from prior years remain stable. Net investment income in the quarter benefited from strong performance of the global equity markets. This improvement in equity markets coupled with tightening and credit spreads contributed significantly to book value growth in the quarter. We ended the quarter with record diluted book value per share of $39.53, an increase of 4% from year-end 2011 and 11% over the last 12 months.
Gross premiums written in the quarter declined by 2%. Growth in our Insurance segment from accident and health, marine and property related lines was offset by continued prudent reductions, (inaudible) line where we remain judicious in our utilization available capacity. We are however, encouraged as pricing continue to firm through the quarter and into the April 1 renewals, particularly in catastrophe exposed classes.
The product lines where we maintain a meaningful participation, this trend is visible now and almost in every geography and every line. However, the rate changes we are observing are not yet enough to warn any dramatic increase in underwriting activity.
I will discuss market conditions in more detail following Albert’s remarks. And with that, I’d like to turn the call over to Albert.Albert A. BenchimolThank you, John and good morning everyone. This was a good quarter for the industry and for AXIS. Capital rise by improving pricing trends across substantially all lines in market and absence of large catastrophes and a significant turnaround in results from the Cat plagued first quarter of 2011. This quarter also marked a full recovery in our diluted book value following the significant Cat losses incurred in the first quarter of last year. Just as we have done following significant Cat loss activity in 2005 and 2008, we’ve demonstrated the resilience of our franchise and in all cases book value reached a new high within 12 months.
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