Prudential Financial Inc

, the No. 2 U.S. life insurer, said it plans to sell $1.25 billion of common stock after turning down U.S. aid.

Prudential said it may use the proceeds to boost capital at its insurance subsidiary or to repay debt. It said it may also use the funds for potential strategic initiatives, but did not provide details. The bank's shares fell 1.5 percent to $39.31 in early trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

U.S. life insurers have been weakened by investment losses and higher costs on retirement products they sold that guarantee returns. But financial markets have broadly recovered since early March, which has offset some of the weakness in insurers' investment portfolios.

Morgan Stanley said last week in a note to clients, We are now beginning to see clearer signs of light at the end of the tunnel.

Up to a dozen life insurers applied for federal funds last October and November. But since receiving preliminary approval for aid earlier this month, several companies, including Prudential and Allstate Financial , have turned down the government's offer. Prudential said on Monday that it will not participate in the U.S. Treasury Department's Capital Purchase Program.

Citigroup and Goldman Sachs are lead underwriters for the Prudential deal and will have a 30-day option to purchase up to an additional 15 percent of the offered amount of common stock, Prudential said.

(Reporting by Dan Wilchins in New York, additional reporting by Anurag Kotoky in Bangalore; Editing by Anil D'Silva and John Wallace)