Shares in Aviva were down on the FTSE 100, as the insurer reported a drop in sales from the previous year.

The group said that its worldwide total sales reached £12.6 billion in the first quarter, up 16 per cent from the previous quarter, but down one per cent from the same quarter in 2009.

Aviva said that its long term saving sales in Europe and the United Kingdom rose 16 per cent from the previous quarter, accounting for 85 per cent of the group's total sales.

The company said that its margins were in line with the full year 2009.

Andrew Moss, Chief Executive of Aviva, commented, "This is an encouraging start to the year. Europe and the UK are the primary engines for Aviva's growth today, accounting for 85% of our long-term savings sales in the first quarter. Sales have recovered and we've seen strong performances across our portfolio of life, general insurance and asset management businesses, compared to the previous quarter. Our capital position remains strong and this second quarter of growth bodes well for the rest of the year, even though there is still a degree of economic uncertainty in a number of markets.

"I'm pleased that we have agreed a long-term funding plan for our main UK pension scheme in this quarter, which we expect will eliminate the deficit over time. When combined with our proposal to close the scheme to future accruals, this should provide a welcome degree of certainty on funding for all our stakeholders."

By 10:59 shares in Aviva were down 1.58 per cent to 333.64 pence per share.