U.S. banks increased sales of equity indexed annuities by 79% in the first quarter, well above the growth rate for EIAs in other channels, a new survey reveals.

Banks sold $300 million worth of EIAs in the quarter, compared to $168 million in the first quarter of 2004, according to the survey by Kenneth Kehrer Associates, Princeton, N.J., sponsored by the Midwood Financial Bank, Encino, Calif.

Alan Blank, president of Midwood, points to recent data from LIMRA International, Windsor, Conn., showing EIA sales for the United States as a whole totaled $6.4 billion in the quarter, up 56% from year-earlier levels.

EIAs account for 5.4% of all fixed annuity sales in banks for the quarter, up from 4.9% a year earlier, the Kehrer study finds.

EIAs are fixed annuities that combine a minimum guaranteed interest rate with a rate linked to the performance of the stock market. Because of the guarantee, they give investors a way to gain from an up market without risking loss of their principal if the market goes down.

Bank EIA sales totaled $300 million in first quarter 2005.