By Jonathan Davies

Amazon has said its web services business is profitable after reporting sales of $1.57 billion (£1.04bn) in the first quarter.

The online retail giant, which has been expanding its offering in recent years, launched Amazon Web Services (AWS) towards the end of 2014. It is a cloud computing service which makes money by charging businesses to host their websites and apps.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said in a statement: "Amazon web services is a $5bn business and still growing fast."

Sales for the whole Amazon business was up 15% in the first three months of the year to $22.7bn, compared with last year.

Despite growing revenues, Amazon reported a $57m loss for the quarter. It added to concerns that Amazon is struggling to generate a return for investors due to lack of profitability. But the expected profitability of AWS could alleviate shareholders' concerns.