NU Online News Service, April 19, 1:45 p.m. – Total first-quarter annuity sales were probably up at least 17% from sales for the first quarter of 2001, according to Andrew Kligerman, an analyst with Bear Stearns & Company Inc., New York.

Fixed annuity sales should be up more than 70%, because fixed annuities are offering better rates than bank certificates of deposit at a time when investors are shying away from stocks and equity-based mutual funds, Kligerman says.

But worries about the stock market pushed mutual fund sales down 7% in January and February, and that means first-quarter variable annuity sales might be down about 10%, Kligerman estimates.

Although insurers as a whole have been having trouble selling variable annuities, others, such as Lincoln National Corp., Philadelphia, and MetLife Inc., New York, are giving a kick to VA sales by establishing new distribution arrangements, Kligerman says.