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FRC: Variable Product Buyers See The World

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U.S. residents may be putting less cash into variable annuities and variable life insurance policies, but they appear to be more adventurous with the cash that they are depositing in variable products.

Financial Research Corp., Boston, has published data supporting that view in a report on January variable product net flows.

Variable product stock, bond and money-market options took in $1 billion more cash than they lost in January, down from a net inflow of $1.6 billion in January 2005, according to FRC.

But FRC adds a very important warning: The flow totals exclude the hot new lifestyle funds and other “funds of funds.”

The FRC flow figures suggest that the lifestyle funds may be appealing to consumers who normally would have parked cash in the money-market options on variable product investment menus.

Net flow of cash into stock and bond options jumped to $1.1 billion, from $53 million.

Meanwhile, the money-market options actually lost $13 million in cash. That compares with a net inflow of $1.5 billion for January 2005.

In the stock and bond option category, U.S. stock options were the big losers. The net flow of cash out of those variable product options increased to $1.5 billion, from $1 billion.

Instead of investing in domestic stocks, consumers invested in international and global investment options. The net flow of cash into international and world options soared to $2 billion, from $649 million.