NU Online News Service, Nov. 7, 9:50 a.m. – Nationwide Financial Services Inc., Columbus, Ohio, says sales through banks were up 15% in the third quarter in spite of the recent stock market downturn.

National Financial Institutions Distributors Agency Inc., the unit that sells through banks and thrifts, is reporting $941 million in net premium sales for the third quarter, up from $817 million for the third quarter of 2000.

Sales of fixed Nationwide annuities were especially strong.

Banks generated $481 million in sales of the fixed annuities during the quarter, more than four times the amount they generated during the comparable period in 2000, Nationwide says.

Overall annuity sales increased 24%, to $875 million.

Bank life sales increased 12% over the same period, and offshore annuity sales increased 249%.

Nationwide Financial is an affiliate of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.