NEW YORK (AP) _ Colgate-Palmolive Co. posted a 6.6 percent earnings increase for the first quarter, narrowly beating Wall Street expectations and sending its stock price surging Wednesday.

The consumer products company known for Colgate toothpaste, Palmolive dish soap, Ajax cleanser and Mennen deodorant cited new products and sales growth in the United States for its improved results.

Colgate earned $208.9 million, or 65 cents a share, in the three months ended March 31, compared with $196.0 million, or 60 cents a share, a year ago.

The results were a penny per share ahead of the 64 cents expected by analysts surveyed by First Call Corp.

In trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Colgate shares soared 7.9 percent, rising $7.37 1/2 to $100.37 1/2.

Revenue rose to $2.18 billion from $2.16 billion a year earlier.

Sales rose 11 percent in North America led by new products including Colgate Total Fresh Stripe toothpaste and premium Oral Care tooth brushes.

Sales fell 8 percent in Latin America, hurt by difficult economic conditions in Brazil and Ecuador.

In Europe, sales were level with strong results a year ago and would have risen 4 percent if economically-troubled Russia and its neighbors were excluded. Sales were slightly higher in Asia and Africa,

Hills Pet Food sales rose 6 percent.