Strong sales of variable annuities helped push March annuity sales in banks and savings institutions to a 12% increase over a year earlier.

Financial institutions sold over $4.6 billion of fixed and variable annuities in March, a 39% increase over February, according to a monthly survey by Kenneth Kehrer Associates, Princeton, N.J.

Banks sold nearly $2.3 billion in variable annuities in March, 21% more than March 2005.

Fixed annuity sales in banks reached $2.3 billion in March, slightly more than the $2.2 billion recorded a year earlier.

The survey is sponsored by Jackson National Life’s Insurance Co.’s Institutional Marketing Group, Lansing, Mich.